The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 10, 2001

President and Australian Prime Minister Discuss Oval Office Meeting
Remarks by the President and Prime Minister Howard of Australia at Conclusion of Oval Office Meeting
The Colonnade

Washington, D.C. 11:20 A.M. EDT

     Q    Mr. President, how do you feel about a free trade agreement with Australia?

     THE PRESIDENT:  We've had a good discussion about it.

     Q    Progress, sir?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think we've made some good progress, you bet.  I appreciate the Prime Minister being here.  Australia is a great friend to the United States, and it's an honor to welcome him and the delegation here.

     Q    Does the agreement still have to wait until after the FDA here?

     THE PRESIDENT:  We're making good progress.  He's certainly making a good case.

     Q    Mr. President, if you had to choose between education and your tax cut, which would you choose?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I'm going to Florida today --

     Q    Have fun.

     THE PRESIDENT:  -- to talk about education.

     I hope the Australian press is kinder to you than the American press is to me.

     Q    How have you found the discussions --

     PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:  Dennis?  You heard that, Dennis?

     Q    Yes?

     PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:  You just listen to the man.  He speaks great common sense.  (Laughter.)

     Q    Mr. Howard, how have you found the discussions so far with Mr. Bush?

     PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:  Very good.  I mean, we are very close friends. We covered just about everything you could cover in the time.  We're going to continue over lunch to talk about some of the regional issues.  And it's a great opportunity to reinforce what a deep friendship it is.  And the President and I have a great similarity of views on many issues, and it's a great experience to be able to exchange them with somebody who holds the views he does.

     Q    Have you provided an update on the --

     PRIME MINISTER HOWARD:  I can't hear you, I'm sorry?

     Q    Have you provided an update on the HMAS Manoora at all?

     PRIME MINSTER HOWARD:  Haven't discussed it.

     Q    Mr. President, do you congratulate Lleyton Hewitt for winning the U.S. Open?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I do.  Man, you talk about a guy who can play tennis.  He was -- clearly tennis is one of Australia's best exports.

     By the way, now that you're here, I do want to say hello to my old friend John Newcombe.  I knew him years ago; he represents the best of Australia.  And by the way, we get along well, because if there's any place that's like Texas, it's Australia.  Which is a high compliment, I want you to know.

     Q    Mr. President, do you see a role for Australia in the development of your --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I do.  They're close allies.  We'll have close consultation.  I look forward to the Prime Minister's continuing advice. We have had great discussions about the Far East, and his advice is very valuable for our foreign policy.  There's nothing like a friend who will tell the truth.

                           END                   11:23 A.M. EDT

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