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...


Secondly, a further enhancement of the joint training capability by providing additional support for training by American and Australian forces in Australia , and also further cooperative efforts to develop access and capabilities for international, surveillance and reconnaissance. And finally, a further enhancement of our already robust program of military exchanges and joint operations. We've asked our officials to work in more detail around each of those four headings, and as a result of that, I'm very confident that there will be further and very significant enhancement of an already very close relationship.

Can I just conclude by saying that in our discussions I made it very clear to the President that our commitment to Iraq remains. Australian forces will remain at their present levels in Iraq not based on any calendar, but based on conditions in the ground, until we are satisfied that a further contribution to ensuring that the Iraqis can look after themselves cannot usefully made by the Australian forces. They will not be reduced or withdrawn.

It may over time be that their role will assume greater elements of training or greater elements of other aspects of what their capabilities include, but their commitment, their level and the basis on which they stay there in cooperation with other members of the coalition will not change under a government that I lead.

We believe that progress is being made in Iraq , difficult though it is. And we do not believe this is the time to be setting any proposals for a scaling down of Australian forces. We think that is objectionable on two grounds. Firstly, it misreads the needs of the Iraqi people, and secondly, at the present time, a close ally and friend such as Australia should be providing the maximum presence and indication of support to our very close ally and friend in the person of the United States . That is our position and I've made that very clear to the President in our discussions. And I make it very clear to you at this news conference.

George.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Mr. Prime Minister , thanks for your hospitality. You've been telling me how beautiful Sydney is. I now agree. Laura sends her very best to you and Janette, and we congratulate you on -- like your grandfatherhood. (Laughter.)

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Thank you.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I admire your vision, I admire your courage. One thing that's really important when it comes to international diplomacy is when a leader tells you something, he means it. And the thing I appreciate about dealing with Prime Minster Howard is that, one, you know where he stands, you don't have to try to read nuance into his words. And then when he tells you something, he stands by his word. And I thank you for that. I appreciate as well our personal friendship. I'm looking forward for you to buy me lunch today. I'm a meat guy. (Laughter.)

We did sign a treaty today that was important. It's the U.S.-Australia Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty. And I think John put it best --it helps cut through the bureaucracy so that we can transform our forces better, share technology better and, frankly, enable our private sectors to work together to develop new defense capabilities to defend ourselves. And it is an important treaty. It took a while to get here, but it's -- we were able to get it done. And I thank you for giving me a chance to sign it here.

We spent a lot of time talking about Iraq and Afghanistan . As I told John, we're in the midst of an ideological struggle against people who use murder as a weapon to achieve their vision. Some people see that, some people don't see it. Some people view these folks as just kind of isolated killers who may show up or may not show up. I happen to view them as people with an objective, and their objective is to spread a vision that is opposite of the vision that we share.

There are two theaters in this war on terror; they're evident. One is Afghanistan , the other is Iraq . These are both theaters of the same war. And the fundamental question is, is it worth it to be there, and can we succeed? And the definition of success are countries that can govern themselves, sustain themselves, defend themselves, listen to the people, and serve as allies in this war against extremists and murderers. And if I didn't think we could succeed, I wouldn't have our troops there. As the Commander-in-Chief of our military, I cannot commit U.S. troops into combat unless I'm convinced it's worth it, important to the security of the United States , and we can meet our objectives.