For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 16, 2006
President Bush Welcomes Prime Minister Howard of Australia in Arrival Ceremony at the White House
The South Lawn
Official Visit of the Prime Minister of Australia
In Focus: Global Diplomacy
9:16 A.M. EDT
PRESIDENT BUSH: Good morning. Laura and I are honored to welcome Prime Minister John Howard, and his wife Janette, back to the White House.
Australia and the United States share timeless values. On opposite sides of the Pacific, our peoples created lands of opportunity and offered millions the hope of new beginnings. As frontier peoples, we cherish the spirit of discovery. We believe that men and women who dream big and work hard can create a better world.
Australians and Americans also believe in the power of freedom. Our two nations were once remote outposts of liberty, lands where those escaping tyranny could find a better life. Today freedom is on the move. Australians and Americans celebrate freedom's advance, because nations that respect the rights and dignity of their own people are the best partners for peace and the strongest anchors of stability in every region of the world.
Freedom has enemies, and for more than a hundred years, Australians and Americans have joined together to defend freedom. Together we fought the Battle of Hamel in World War I. Together we fought in World War II from the beaches of Normandy to the waters of the Coral Sea. Together we fought in Korea and Vietnam. And together we're fighting, and winning, the global war on terror.
Prime Minister Howard, you and I stood together here at the White House the day before September the 11th, 2001. And our nations have stood together on every day afterwards. The American people know that Australia is a strong ally. We admire your courage, and we appreciate your sacrifice.
We share your grief over the loss of your own countrymen who were brutally attacked in Bali. We share your determination to defeat those who murder the innocent to promote their ideology of hatred. To defeat the terrorists, we must stay on the offensive, and Australia has been on the front lines of every offensive in the war on terror.
In Afghanistan, the first casualty among American allies was an Australian. In Iraq, Australian special operation forces were among the first coalition units on the ground. The bravery and skill of the Australian military have helped the people of these two nations claim their freedom and deny the terrorists safe havens from which to launch further attacks.
The war has reaffirmed the strength of our alliance, yet our alliance is only one component of our broad partnership. Australia and the United States signed a free trade agreement in 2004 because we recognize that open markets create greater prosperity for both our peoples. We're cooperating to expand trade worldwide. In the Doha negotiations, Australia and America speak with one voice. We continue to urge all parties to reduce global trade barriers that keep millions in the developing world mired in poverty.
Our two nations accept other global responsibilities, as well. We helped to build the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate so we can make the latest energy technologies available to all to increase efficiency and reduce pollution.
We've pooled our resources to help the victims of natural disasters, and we're working together to meet the threat of pandemic disease. We share a common approach to security issues, including Iran and North Korea. Our two nations are closer than ever, and Americans admire Australia's strong leader. Prime Minister John Howard has affirmed our common values. He's strengthened our alliance. He's built on our long history of partnership. I value his counsel. I admire his courage.
Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard, thank you for making the long journey. We welcome you with the honor due to a valiant nation and with the warmth of close friends. Welcome to America. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Mr. President and Mrs. Bush, Mr. Vice President and Mrs. Cheney, and ladies and gentlemen: Can I say to you, Mr. President, for myself and my wife, and I know all of the Australians present here today, how much we welcome and appreciate the warmth and generosity of the hospitality and welcome that you have extended to us.
It is possible, Mr. President, to count on the fingers of our two hands the number of nations that have remained continuously democratic over the last 100 years. And two of those nations are, of course, the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Australia. Our common history, our common commitment to liberty and to democracy has been an important bond that has united the people of America and the people of Australia.
But it's also been our shared values that have been an important constant in that relationship: a belief that the worth of a person is defined not by his or her race, or religion, or nationality, but rather the worth of that person's character, and his or her commitment to the common future of the nation of which he is a part; a belief that the greatest force for good within any society is stable families, because it's families that bring out the best in people and provide them with the greatest source of emotional support and sustenance; and also, a belief that economic future and economic liberty is best defined by competitive capitalism and the working out of market forces, provided our societies provide an understanding of the need to protect those who, through no fault of their own, may need assistance.
And they are many of the values that have defined both of our societies, and they are some of the values that have brought our two societies together.
You rightly recall, Mr. President, that the fighting men of our two countries first joined together on the Fourth of July, 1918, at the Battle of Hamel, in World War I. And in every significant conflict since, Americans and Australians have fought together in pursuit of our common goals and our common objectives. And I pay tribute, in particular, to the way in which the United States of America came to the assistance of Australia in the dark days of the Pacific War in World War II. And successive generations of Australians will never forget the vital assistance that the United States extended to our country in our hour of need, in the darkest days of World War II.
And it is important, on an occasion like this, to recall not only our history, but also to repeat our common resolve about the future. I will recall our meeting here at the White House on the 10th of September, 2001. It was the first time that we had met as President of the United States and Prime Minister of Australia. And in our discussions, contrary to what the critics of our two societies say, we were not speaking evil of other people in the world, we were not condemning other religions, we were not condemning other countries. We were expressing hope about a more peaceful world, a world in which Christian and Muslim would work together, a world in which the nations of the world would unite in harmony and peace.
And the following day, of course, the world changed forever. And so much of the common effort of our two societies since has been directed to the fight on terrorism. It will be, as you've said, Mr. President, a long and difficult fight. Progress is being made, but much lies ahead. And Janette and I are very conscious of the great sacrifice in lives of the men and women of your country. And we pay tribute to them, and we share the mourning and the grief of their loved ones here in the United States.
But our cause is a just cause. Terrorism respects no value system; terrorism does not respect the tenets of the great religions of the world; terrorism is based on evil, intolerance and bigotry. And no free societies, such as Australia and the United States, can ever buckle under to bigotry and intolerance.
Mr. President, I come here as the elected leader of a nation of 20 million people; a nation that shares so much in common with your country; a nation that will shoulder her responsibilities in the Pacific region; a nation which historically has interacted not only with the people of our own region, but the people of your country and the people of Europe.
I thank you again, Mr. President, for your personal friendship. I admire the leadership and the courage and the commitment that you have brought to your responsibilities and to your office. You have reasserted with strength and clarity the great values of the United States. You have presented a firm leadership to the free world against terrorism. The world needs an involved, committed, concerned United States years into the future. The world needs a President of the United States who has a clear-eyed view of the dangers of terrorism, and the courage and the determination, however difficult the path may be, to see the task through to its conclusion. And in you, sir, the American people and the world have found such a leader and such an individual.
I salute your courage and your commitment, your personal decency and your personal leadership of this great democracy, of this great country. And I thank you very warmly for all the Australians present for the grace and dignity and genuineness of your welcome.
Thank you. (Applause.)
END 9:29 A.M. EDT