SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, Oct. 22) - United States President George W Bush has arrived in Canberra for the start of his visit to the nation's capital.

The U.S. President's aircraft was escorted to Canberra just before 10:00 p.m. AEST by two Australian F/A-18 fighter jets.

The President was met at the airport by Prime Minister John Howard and his wife Janette, the U.S. Ambassador, and other dignitaries.

Mr Howard and the official party boarded Air Force One to greet the President, before emerging a short time later.

The President's substantial entourage then got into a convoy of limousines and other vehicles and they drove to the U.S. embassy, where Mr Bush is spending the night.

The motorcade passed a small but noisy group of protesters outside the U.S. embassy.

There is extremely tight security in many parts of Canberra.

The fighter jets will patrol the city during his stay, and navy helicopters will shadow his motorcade.

Hundreds of police, U.S. secret service agents, and sniffer dogs patrolled the area as he arrived.

Mr Bush will be in Australia for less than 24 hours.

The U.S. President has a busy schedule ahead of him.

He will address a joint sitting of Parliament, meet senior ministers and attend a barbecue at the Lodge, before visiting the War Memorial.

Mr Bush had a brief stopover in Bali, where he met Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri and moderate Islamic leaders.

Both presidents renewed their pledge to work together against terrorism.

Mr Bush says Islam should not be used as an excuse for violence.

"Terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the world's great faiths," Mr Bush said. "Murder has no place in any religious tradition, must find no home in Indonesia.

"President Megawati has confronted this evil directly. Under her leadership, Indonesia is hunting and finding dangerous killers. America appreciates Indonesia's strong co-operation in the war on terror."

Mr Bush also said Indonesians had made great progress in strengthening democracy over the last five years and the process will continue in 2004.

"Next year, your country will reach an important milestone when some 150 million Indonesians vote in the nation's first ever elected presidential elections," he said. "The US is working with Indonesia to support these historic elections.

"In a short time Indonesia has traveled far down the road to full democracy and Indonesians should be proud of this accomplishment."

Meanwhile, about 5,000 people marched through the streets of Sydney in New South Wales to the United States consulate in a noisy protest against Bush.

The protesters brought city traffic to a standstill as they marched from Sydney Town Hall to Martin Place calling for troops to be pulled out of Iraq and for President Bush to go home.

The demonstrators also called for all prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay to be returned to their homelands and for Israel to stop incursions into Palestinian territories.

Mounted police are guarding the consulate but have reported no trouble.

Before they marched, protesters heard from a range of speakers including Labor MP Harry Quick who will wear a white armband in Federal Parliament, during the address by Mr Bush.

The Greens leader Senator Bob Brown told the crowd that the President's visit means the federal parliament will be closed to visitors while the President is addressing a joint sitting.

"This is the Australian Parliament, this is not the parliament of a dictatorship, and it is not the parliament that locks out the people who own it," he said. "That is the message that should go, not just to President Bush, but to our Prime Minister who has locked the Australian people out."

About 500 protesters also rallied in Melbourne against the visit to Australia by President Bush. They marched from the State Library to Federation Square.

A smaller group will travel by bus to Canberra, where they will meet demonstrators from other states.

About 200 people rallied in Brisbane's King George Square also protesting against the U.S. President's visit.

Meanwhile in Tasmania, about 200 people attended a protest in Hobart.

Protesters are calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq as a prerequisite for peace in the Middle East.

October 23, 2003

ABC News Online: http://abc.net.au/news/


Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment