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Condoleezza Rice Toast With John Howard

Toast Remarks With Australian Prime Minister John Howard

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
May 15, 2006

(12:32 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. You may be seated. Welcome to the Ben Franklin Room, where I am absolutely honored and delighted to have a luncheon to honor our very, very good friends from Australia, the Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard, and also their son Richard who is here with them.

Prime Minister, Mrs. Howard, thank you for honoring us with your presence. Thank you for the deep friendship that Australia and the United States enjoy and have enjoyed for many decades now. In fact, when I was in Australia just very recently, I had a number of activities that simply underscored the depth and breadth of our relationship, activities that acknowledged the extraordinary friendship that Australia and the United States have enjoyed. It was a time to have an opportunity to thank the families of Australian soldiers who have served side by side with Americans in Iraq, in Afghanistan, going all the way back, of course, to world wars that we successfully fought in the defense of freedom. I was able to say to them that any time the United States is on the front lines in the defense of freedom, Australians are by our side, and for that we thank you.

I also had the chance to see this wonderful and vast country that reminds us very much of the United States itself in its openness of territory but also in its openness of the hearts and minds of the Australian people. I was in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games, to be reminded that Australians, like Americans, take their sports very, very seriously indeed and enjoy them, and enjoy their depth very much indeed.

I am so glad that we have this opportunity to be here with you. I want to note that Senator Lugar is here, who has been a great friend of Australia and of American foreign policy. But I can't thank you enough for all that Australia does, Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard. I would like to raise a glass to this friendship, to this friendship based on values, to this friendship based on shared sacrifice, but more than anything to this friendship based on an expectation of an even brighter future given all that we have achieved in the past.

To the people of Australia and to friendship between Australia and the United States, and Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard, to you. (A toast was made.)

PRIME MINISTER HOWARD: Madame Secretary, ladies and gentlemen, from myself, my wife and son and all the other Australian guests present, can I thank you for those very gracious remarks and say how delighted we are to again enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the Administration, the people of the United States and particularly here in Washington.

You spoke of the depth of the relationship and you spoke of shared sacrifice. And of course it was, I think, on the 4th of July 1917 when Australian and United States forces first fought together at the Battle of Hamel as a very famous battle where a very speedy success was achieved, and that began a shared partnership in military conflict that has to this day been unbroken because every major conflict our two countries have been engaged together.

Important though that is, the relationship of values and the deep commitment to democracy and freedom and openness of society is even more important. And the thing that binds us together most of all is that continuity of belief in a society built on respect for people's character and worth, not on their race or their class or their social standing. And I think they are the things that more than anything bind our two societies.

We do have a deep love of competitive sport in Australia. We think we're reasonably good at it in certain pursuits. Some sports, of course, we find it hard to find any competition with the Americans in such as cricket, but there are, of course, other sports where the rivalry is intense and the Secretary of State was explaining to me how she spent some time with our famous swimmer Ian Thorpe at the Commonwealth Games and that, of course, is a reminder of the things that we do share in common in the sporting arena.

Can I, on a more personal note, pay a tribute to you, Madame Secretary, for the wonderful leadership that you have given to the foreign policy of the United States in the time that you have been in your position. The projection of American power and purpose remains very, very important to all the nations of the world. Australia is one of those countries which is in the forefront of those who urge greater rather than less United States involvement in the affairs of the world. The involvement of your country in our own region is critical to its stability, and the energy and the intellect that you have brought to the position and the example that you represent in so many ways is a source of enormous admiration in my country and a source of very great respect around the world.

Thank you very much for the courtesy that you have extended to me and to the members of my delegation in providing this wonderful lunch, and I want to say how deeply valuable it is to me on a personal basis and on behalf of the people of Australia this relationship between our two societies which is something very precious and something very special and something to which so many on both sides are very deeply committed.

I would like to invite you all to raise a glass and to toast the history of the friendship, the current strength of the friendship and the future prospect of the friendships of the people of Australia and the people of the United States. To the people of the Australia and the people of the United States. (A toast was made.)

(Applause.) 2006/498

Released on May 15, 2006


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