March 28th, 2008 09:30 EST
Australian PM visits White House
President Bush is hosting Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the White House for talks Friday, expected to include Iraq and unrest in Tibet.
The two leaders are expected to reaffirm the long-standing security alliance between the U.S. and Australia, despite Mr. Rudd's decision to remove 550 combat troops from Iraq. Australia still has nearly 1,000 troops in Afghanistan.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel says the United States appreciates the commitment that Australia has made to Iraq.
He says Mr. Bush welcomes the opportunity for productive exchanges on a broad range of areas including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, climate change and regional economic integration.
Mr. Bush's national security advisor, Stephen Hadley, says it is crucial that the alliance with Australia be strong and endures under its new leadership.
Mr. Rudd's visit to Washington is his first since he led his Labor Party to victory in parliamentary elections last year.
The prime minister's conservative predecessor, John Howard, was a staunch ally of Mr. Bush, especially in deploying Australian troops to Iraq.
Mr. Rudd also reversed Mr. Howard's stand on global warming by ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, which Mr. Bush opposes.