Wed, January 14, 2009
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Bush awards allies top award

2009-01-14 05:40:11 GMT2009-01-14 13:40:11 (Beijing Time)

Calling them true friends of the United States, outgoing President George W. Bush bestowed the nation's highest civilian award on three of his closest foreign allies while in office.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe were each awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor at the White House.

Blair and Howard were staunch supporters of Bush, both sending troops to Iraq despite sharp criticism at home.

Bush praised Blair's commitment to the US-led War on Terror.

SOUNDBITE: U.S. President George W. Bush:

"Under Tony Blair's leadership, the might and the moral authority of Great Britain have been applied to the war on terror from the first day. Our nations have worked proudly together to destroy terrorist havens, liberate millions, and help rising democracies to serve the aspirations of their people."

The President told invited guests that Howard had been brave in the defense of freedom.

SOUNDBITE: U.S. President George W. Bush:

"This man, who saw the burning Pentagon on September the 11th, and who confronted -- comforted the survivors of Bali, never wavered in his commitment to overcoming this great danger to civilization."

Bush applauded Uribe for his fight against Colombian drug cartels and his efforts to quell violence.

The East Room ceremony -- marked one of Bush's last public acts as he prepares to step off the world stage.

Sarah Irwin, Reuters.

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