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Close Ties with US Crucial for Australia: Howard
Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Tuesday that his country's close relations with the United States will get even closer in coming years.

In a foreign policy speech to the Sydney Institute, an independent think tank, Howard noted that the US would "grow more,not less, important to Australia as the years go by."

He also called for greater efforts by the international community to combat the scourge of terrorism.

"In the age of terrorism, retreat and isolation will not deliver security and prosperity," he said.

Canberra's close links with Washington, especially since the run-up to the war with Iraq, have earned Howard criticism both from abroad and at home.

In March, Howard sent 2,000 Australian troops to join the US-led war aimed at toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein.

(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2003)

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