Bush awards medals to top allies

Jan. 13, 2009 at 10:40 PM
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WASHINGTON, Calif., Jan. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush awarded the Medal of Freedom to three men considered to be among his closest allies around the world.

Honored with the highest U.S. civilian honor were Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

"Each of these gentlemen we honor today has his own style and personality. Each has amassed distinctions and achievements that belong to him alone. Yet all of them have shown a firm adherence to the principles of freedom and democratic values," Bush said.

Bush said the three men have his deepest respect. He said Uribe's leadership has been "resolute and uncompromising." He called Blair a "gallant friend," and said Howard "will stand tall in history."

"They are the sort of guys who look you in the eye and tell you the truth and keep their word. In lengthy service, they proved to be leaders of character and fortitude," Bush said. "They were warm friends of the United States of America."

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