Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Howard of Australia in Joint Press Availability

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Mr. President , ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to welcome the media to this news conference. I'll say a couple of words, invite the President to speak briefly...

WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Mr. President , ladies and gentlemen. I'd like to welcome the media to this news conference. I'll say a couple of words, invite the President to speak briefly, and then we'll take a couple of questions from each of the press groups.

It's always a great pleasure, George, to welcome you to Australia . The United States President is always welcome in our country. We have no closer alliance with any country in the world than we have with the United States . Both historically and contemporaneously, the importance of the alliance between the United States of America and Australia is deeply embedded in the minds of millions of Australians.

And you, Mr. President , and I have shared a number of very special experiences over the past few years. I remember our first personal meeting was on the 10th of September of 2001. And of course, as a consequence of that meeting and the events that horrifically followed the other day, the paths of our two countries have been parallel in so many ways, in the fight against terrorism and the promotion of democracy and freedom around the world. And in that context, as well as the more generic national context, I welcome you very warmly on a personal basis to my hometown of Sydney, Australia's largest city and, in my view, the most beautiful big city in the world.

But we had a very broad-ranging discussion. We talked extensively about Iraq , about the climate change aspects of APEC, the American perception towards conditions in the Middle East and in relation to Iran , and also the prospects for something we both hope for, and that is a lasting settlement between Israel and the Palestinian people which does justice to the right of the Israelis to exist unmolested as a free and proud nation, and also the right of the people of Palestine to have a homeland.

On a bilateral basis, we have agreed to a number of new arrangements including a treaty relating to exchanges concerning defense equipment, which effectively will remove layers of bureaucracy for defense industries in Australia acquiring American technology, and we'll enter that market on the same basis as do companies coming from the United Kingdom .

We also agreed on joint statements regarding climate change and energy, a joint nuclear energy action plan, which involves cooperation on civil nuclear energy, including R&D, skills and technical training, and regulatory issues. Australia intends to participate in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, and there will be great benefits in terms of access to nuclear technology and nonproliferation. And the United States will support Australian membership in the Generation IV International Forum, which involves R&D to develop safer and better nuclear reactors.

I'm also pleased to announce that we've entered arrangements that will allow something in the order of 15,000, we estimate, young Australians who are students or graduates to visit the United States on the basis of some kind of gap year in their studies, and that will be a facility available in the United States which is currently available and very widely utilized by young Australians in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

We have also agreed that further detailed discussions involving taking our defense cooperation even further -- and this involves four components to be explored. The first of those is enhanced cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. And that could, in fact, involve a stationing -- basing in Australia by the United States equipment and stores and provisions that would be available for ready use in disaster relief in our immediate region. And we think in particular of any repetition of the tsunami disaster or things of that kind which occurred a couple of years ago.

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