Condoleezza Rice today praises Australia's support

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today praised Australia's support for the war on terrorism.

After holding talks with Prime Minister John Howard and Cabinet's national security committee, Dr Rice told reporters Australia was ``a steadfast friend''.

She thanked Australia for its involvement in fighting international terrorism.

"As we continue to fight the war on terrorism and continue to try and supplant that ideology of hatred that exists behind terrorism with the hope of democracy and the liberty around the world, it is wonderful to have a steadfast friend like Australia,'' she said.

Mr Howard also talked up the US/Australia relationship.

"There is no country with whom Australia has a closer relationship,'' he said.

The joint press conference was held before Dr Rice was to leave Sydney for Melbourne, where she will meet with Australian troops and watch events at the Commonwealth Games.

Mr Howard said Australia was not currently planning to lift its ban on supplying uranium to countries which have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

But he said a team of government officials would visit India and the US to discuss an American agreement to supply nuclear fuel and technology to that country.

"There isn't going to be any immediate change in government policy,'' he said, reports the AP.


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