Views From Kennewick

Thursday, February 22, 2007

God Bless John Howard, Aussie PM

Asia-Pacific News
Cheney lauds Australian loyalty in war on terrorism
Feb 23, 2007, 0:47 GMT

Sydney - US Vice President Dick Cheney made an emotive appeal Friday to Australia to keep its 1,400 troops in Iraq.

'Americans know that for this country standing by your mate when he's in a fight are more than words in a song, and they signify a way of life,' Cheney told a Sydney gathering.

Highlighting the divisiveness of the Iraq war, police outside Cheney's harbour-side hotel battled with protesters determined to disrupt the first engagement on his four-day trip.

Prime Minister John Howard is behind in the opinion polls in the run up to an election later this year, when he will try for a fifth successive term. He has pledged to stay the course in Iraq despite voters telling pollsters that they want the troops to come home.

Opposition Labor Party leader Kevin Rudd, scheduled to meet with Cheney, has pledged to withdraw from Iraq if he wins at an election expected in November.

Cheney characterized Iraq as integral to the war against Islamic terrorists who want to 'establish a caliphate covering a region from Spain across North Africa across the Middle East and South Asia all the way around Indonesia.'

Australia is the United States' closest ally in the region and has a formal defence treaty with Washington that was invoked after the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Australian troops have fought alongside Americans in every major conflict of the last 100 years.

© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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