Australia's Foreign Minister Bob Carr has made his first speech to the United Nations Security Council, calling for continued international support for Afghanistan.

Senator Carr says large parts of Afghanistan are significantly safer and the country will never again be a haven for international terrorism.

But he says to protect these gains, the international community must remain in the country.

"Australia has welcomed the responsibility of coordinating Security Council discussions on Afghanistan during our Council term," Senator Carr said.

He has argued for a renewal of the mandate for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan which coordinates civilian support for the country.

The Mission's mandate was due to expire this month.

Australia currently has about 1,000 troops in Afghanistan.

It has recently scaled back its level of involvement in military operations ahead of the withdrawal of international forces next year.

'This is fanciful'

In a post-speech news conference Senator Carr focused on world affairs, but he was soon asked about domestic politics.

Media reports in Australia say the Foreign Minister is being courted by supporters of the former prime minister, Kevin Rudd, for a possible leadership challenge.

"This is fanciful, the media should grow up," Senator Carr said.

"No-one has put that to me."

Senator Carr said the constant leadership speculation was "rumour feeding upon itself".

He also declined to comment on suggestions that frontbencher Simon Crean could challenge Prime Minister Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership.

Both News Limited and Fairfax have been quoting unnamed senior Labor figures saying Mr Crean is being pushed to challenge.

Channel Nine political editor Laurie Oakes says Mr Rudd had raised the prospect of a leadership move with Caucus colleagues as early as Friday.


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