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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 5, 2007
President Bush and Australian Prime Minister Howard Visit with Australian Defense Force Members
1:17 P.M. (Local)
PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Thank you. Mr. President and Secretary of State, Defense Minister Brendan Nelson, ADF Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, Secretary of the Department of Defense Nick Warner, and very, very importantly, the men and women of the Australian Defense Force, I want to welcome all of you here today. And can I take this opportunity, because it is a gathering of the men and women of the ADF, can I take this opportunity of expressing on my behalf and on behalf of all of the people of Australia the immense admiration we have for the wonderful things you do, for your fighting qualities and for the way in which you not only fight well but you work well with the local communities of nations of where you are dispatched.
The esteem in which Australians hold the men and women of the ADF now is as high as I have known in my lifetime and it's due to great leadership, it's due to terrific professionalism and it is due to the fact that you understand that war fighting in the modern era is about winning wars, defending yourselves, taking lives where it is necessary, regrettably, but it's also about the effective interaction with local populations. And you make us proud for what you do. That's the first thing I wanted to say.
The second thing I wanted to say of equal importance is to welcome my good friend George Bush, the President of the United States. It's not often -- yes, give him a round -- (applause.)
Mr. President, you do us great honor in spending four days in the beautiful city of Sydney, which we, of course, regard as the most beautiful big city in the world. And it's been on great display. But you come here as the leader of the nation that is closer to Australia than any nation in the world in strategic and defense terms. The thing we share most of all is common values, and the values are values that our two countries have fought together to defend, starting way back in the first world war at the battle of Hamel, which was the first time that Australians and Americans fought together, and under the command of that great Australian general, Sir John Monash, and from them on we've fought in every major conflict together.
We are fighting together in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other parts of the world to defend the things that we hold dear. You come here as the leader of a nation to which we owe so much in terms of our defense during World War II. You come as a good friend of Australia, you come as a good friend of mine. And you come as somebody who has stood up for the things that you believe in and has demonstrated a great example of strong leadership in so doing.
You are here as a friend. You are here as a good mate of Australia's, and you are amongst people who have great admiration for the common values that our two nations hold so dear.
We are delighted that you are accompanied by your Secretary of State, who is held in very warm regard in this country for the wonderful work she does. And can I say that the relationship between our two countries has never been stronger. It's a relationship that is deeply rooted in history and common values and something that is very important to all Australians.
PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality. Janette, thank you for joining us.
So the Prime Minister said, do you want to eat lunch with some of our finest citizens? I said, sure. He said, fine, I'm going to introduce you to the Australian Defense Force folks. And I appreciate you having me. It's a nice barbecue you threw for us. Looking forward to a little cowboy music. (Laughter.)
But most of all, I've been looking forward to saying thanks for those who wear the uniform.
These are tough times. They're times I know that your families wonder whether or not it's worth it for you to be in the military. For those of you who have been to Iraq or Afghanistan -- I saw this wounded man over here -- you know that people wonder, is it worth it? Is it worth the sacrifice? And I told some folks today at a press conference, if it wasn't worth it for our own peace and security, I wouldn't put our own troops in.
I believe the work that you're doing along side our forces is necessary for peace. I believe we are writing one of the great chapters in the history of liberty and peace. And the Prime Minister has given me a chance to thank you, so I want to thank you. You've got a fabulous military.
I talked to our folks all the time about what is it like to be side by side with the Aussies again? And they say, it's a great honor and a privilege. So thanks for being in the military. Thanks for representing your country. Thanks for making the sacrifice necessary for peace. The work you're doing is necessary work and we're going to win. And we'll succeed. And when people look back at this chapter in the history of the world, they're going to say, thank God there were folks like you all.
So, Mr. Prime Minister, I'm honored to be with you. May God bless you all. May God bless our countries. Thanks for having me. (Applause.)