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President Bush Makes Presentation of Bell from USS Canberra to Australia Prime Minister

Aired September 10, 2001 - 09:43   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to take you now to the Navy Yard in Washington, President Bush just beginning his remarks.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all. Please be seated.

Well, Mr. Secretary, thank you for those generous comments. It reconfirms, once again, the reason I picked you.

(LAUGHTER)

I appreciate your service to the Navy, and I appreciate your service to the country.

I'm honored today to join with the Navy to receive a distinguished visitor and to present a symbol of America's esteem. Prime Minister Howard leads a nation that has been our partner in ANZUS for 50 years and a friend far longer.

Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Howard, it's a real pleasure to have you with us. And also, those who made the journey with the prime minister, welcome to America.

My thanks as well to Admirals Clark and Weaver and to all of the men and women of the United States military who are with us today. We're sure proud of you.

Those who defend America have always had a special regard for our Australian allies. And I know -- I know -- their really proud to show that regard today.

Another reason we chose this site, Mr. Prime Minister, is that we have a gift for you, and it's not that easy to move around. This bell that you're going to receive has travelled for almost 25 years aboard the only American ship every commissioned in honor of an ally's fallen vessel, the USS Canberra. She no longer sales, but she gave faithful service. And this bell is a reminder of a faithful partner in times of crisis and in times of calm.

BUSH: The USS Canberra received her name at the request of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the height of World War II. The president had received word of an exceptional action in battle by the Australian Navy which was steaming alongside American vessels at Guadalcanal.

His Majesty's Australian Ship Canberra did not survive the battle, disappearing into the depths where she rests today. There was a great loss of life and much heroism amongst the Australian sailors and marines on board. As a sign of gratitude to those men and to their country, the USS Canberra was commissioned the very next year, serving my country and honoring yours, Mr. Prime Minister.

One man who served aboard the original Canberra was Lieutenant McKensie Gregory (ph), and we're greatly honored to have him with us today. Where is Mr. Gregory (ph)? Thank you for being here, sir. We're honored to have you.

(APPLAUSE)

You must have been a young guy.

(LAUGHTER)

President Roosevelt knew a trustworthy ally when he saw one. Every president since then has felt and known the same esteem for Australia.

Mr. Prime Minister, it was one of your own predecessors, a war- time leader who captured the spirit that has always made us natural allies. "We work for the same kind of free world," observed Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, "We govern ourselves in democracy and we will not tolerate anything less. We cherish liberty and hold it safe, providing hope for the rest of the world."

In the century just passed, Australians served side-by-side with Americans in every major military commitment. In peaceful times, like our own, the alliance between our two nations has helped spare the world from other wars and dangers. Australia is a strong and peaceful presence in East Asia and the Pacific.

BUSH: Australia is a generous land, mindful of the struggles of poor nations, always helping when and where it can. Your government and your good people are an example of democracy, individual liberty and the virtues of free trade amongst all nations.

On this official visit to our country, I know that you will meet with nothing but good will, and in meetings with Congress and my administration, you will find willing partners who understand Australia's importance as a strategic and economic ally.

Though half a world apart, we belong to a very close community of values and aspirations. From this visit, Mr. Prime Minister, I hope that you will take away renewed optimism about our shared future. And I know that you will take with you a parcel weighing approximately 250 pounds.

(LAUGHTER)

It's a fine bell with a great history, and once you get it home, it will always stand as a sign of the unbounded respect of our nation for the Australian people.

Welcome to America. May God bless Australia, and may God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

HARRIS: And with those comments, President Bush goes over to make a presentation of the bell from the USS Canberra.

Let's go now to our senior White House correspondent John King, who is standing by -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, a celebration of friendship here at the Navy Yard here in Washington. You see the presentation of the gift there, quite a heavy gift for the prime minister to carry home. The two men will continue their talks here at the White House. The prime minister about to speak here. Obviously, this a military alliance that dakes back 50 years. The prime minister faces the voters probably in November. He's seeking a third term. What he wants most of all is a commitment from President Bush to negotiate a U.S./Australia trade agreement. But the president is currently seeking a trade promotion authority for a trade agreement here in this hemisphere, other trade agreements before the Congress. So Mr. Bush telling his guests, you will have to wait a little bit. He can't -- too much -- too many trade agreements right now wouldn't go through the Congress.

So the prime minister getting a gift, but not the agreement to negotiate a trade pact that he would have hoped for -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right, thank you very much. John King standing by there at the White House.

We also got a bit of a history lesson this morning, USS Canberra, the only U.S. ship ever commissioned in honor of another country's fallen ship.

Much more coverage coming up. Don't go away.

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