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Bush Expects US-Australia Free Trade Deal by 2004

Visiting US President George W. Bush said in
Canberra Thursday that a free trade agreement between his country and Australia is expected to be reached by the end of the year.

"What I'm committed to is seeing that we can get this free trade agreement done by the end of December," Bush told reporters during a brief public appearance as he met with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"I think a free trade agreement with Australia will be good for America, for American workers. I also believe it will be good for Australia," Bush said.

Trade between Australia and the United States totals 28 billion US dollars a year. Australia wants the United States to relax import quotes and reduce tariffs on its agricultural products.

"Obviously, agriculture is an important issue, intellectual property is an important issue. There's a lot of important issues that we've got to work through, and I think we can," said Bush, who is on a whirlwind tour to Australia at the end of a six-nation Asia-Pacific tour.

The US president addressed Australia's parliament Thursday morning to thank Australia's support to the US-led war in Afghanistan and Iraq. As he was praising Australia's role in the regional peace, thousands of demonstrators outside the parliament chanting slogans in protesting against the US-led war in Iraq.

(Xinhua News Agency October 23, 2003)

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