Read on for Australia's John Howard on the path to replacing Tony Blair as Bush Jnr's #1 poodle, though incapable of concealing his version of "in the national interest". In other words, for Howard it's all about US-OZ trade with not a molecule of concern for the "interests" of our Iraqi sisters and brothers on whom Bush Jnr declared war.
As for Howard's "the US [is] carrying a great burden by having thousands of troops in Iraq": Truly? Bush and his US neo-cons planned and executed the cowardly invasion of Iraq, so which other nations might Howard have in mind? Obviously Australia, but Bush Jnr's Coalition of the Willing is today a Coalition of the Shrinking, with the result that the US occupation of Iraq, and also of Afghanistan, grows more tenuous with each passing day.
Are a few thousand Australian troops going to make the slightest bit of difference? Highly unlikely, but given that Bush Jnr has made his bed, Howard again chooses to cosy alongside him. Seems that Bush judges this to be "leadership", but at least [to date] the world is spared an encore of the shoulder-to-shoulder rhetoric.
But lastly, "Mr Bush praised Mr Howard as a man of conviction". No doubt about that. For starters Howard's anti-women, anti-refugee, anti-Indigenous, anti-environment, anti-union, anti-Asia, the list goes on ... and on ...... but he's 110 per cent pro-war [read *pro-fascism*]! Lynette
Prime Minister John Howard and US President George Bush say they are committed to keeping troops in Iraq despite moves by Britain to start withdrawing forces next year.
Mr Bush and Mr Howard told a joint press conference at the White House they didn't believe in setting timetables to withdraw troops from Iraq.
Their comments come after Britain's Defence Secretary John Reid said at the weekend that he expected British troops would start pulling out of Iraq during the next year.
Mr Howard said he would not put a timetable on when Australia would pull its troops out of Iraq.
"I'm not going to try and put a time limit on our commitment in Iraq. I'm not," he said.
"It will be governed by circumstances rather than by a calendar."
Mr Howard said the US was carrying a great burden by having thousands of troops in Iraq.
"Our commitment is significant but obviously is much smaller," he said.
"But we will stay the distance in Iraq, we won't go until the job is finished."
Mr Bush said US troops would remain in Iraq for as long as necessary until Iraqis were ready to defend their country themselves against insurgents.
He also understood the concern Australians and Americans had for the troops deployed in the war-torn country.
"There's a great temptation for me to put a timetable on our actions there, but that doesn't make sense," Mr Bush said.
"Why would you tell the enemy how long you are going to stay somewhere? We are at war."
Talks about the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Australia is sending 150 more troops, featured heavily during talks between Mr Howard and Mr Bush at the White House.
The pair also discussed the economic benefits of the free-trade agreement signed between the US and Australia and the political situation in the Asia Pacific region.
Mr Bush said he appreciated advice Mr Howard gave him on Indonesia and Malaysia and said that he also told the Prime Minister the US was committed to solving the North Korea nuclear issue.
He also said he believed Australia could play a key role in convincing China to take an active role in North Korea's nuclear disarmament.
Both Mr Howard and Mr Bush expressed admiration for each other after their talks and described to reporters how close the relationship now was between the US and Australia.
Mr Bush praised Mr Howard as a man of conviction.
"He's got backbone, he's not afraid to make the hard decision, he's not afraid to lead," Mr Bush said.
Mr Howard said he believed Australia's relationship with the US would grow closer.
"I believe the economic association between the United States and Australia will be more important as the years go by," he said.
Earlier, Mr Howard met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
He will also hold talks with US Trade Representative Rob Portman and visit Congress before flying to London.