22 Feb 2012

Rudd quits as foreign minister

9:41 pm on 22 February 2012

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has quit his job, saying he has lost the confidence of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

On Monday a senior minister, Simon Crean, called for Ms Gillard to confront Mr Rudd over speculation he would challenge her for the leadership and, if need be, sack him.

Mr Rudd is on a trip to the United States and made his surprise announcement at a news conference in Washington Wednesday night.

Mr Rudd said he would return to Australia immediately before deciding on his future.

ABC News reports Mr Rudd did not say he would challenge for the leadership, but did say he will consult with his family and community before making an announcement about his future before the return of Parliament next week.

He says he would not be involved in what he described as a "stealth attack on a sitting prime minister", saying the future of the ALP depends on removing the influence of factions within the party.

However, political commentators say he is expected to challenge Ms Gillard for the prime ministership as early as next week.