US issues rebuke of Australia's opposition leader - Taipei Times
Tue, Apr 13, 2004 - Page 5 News List

US issues rebuke of Australia's opposition leader


The US State Department has criticized Australian opposition leader Mark Latham for saying Australia's alliance with the US was not an equal partnership, news reports said yesterday.

The rebuke was an unusual move for Washington, which seldom comments on domestic Australian politics. The Sydney Morning Herald said officials deliberated for several days before deciding to react to Latham's comments made last week.

"The alliance between Australia and the United States is a partnership of equals in principle and in reality," the Herald quoted an unidentified State Department official as saying. "Characterizations to the contrary are neither well informed nor well based."

State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said US administrations always "respected Australia's right to its own decisions with regard to its national, regional and international inter-ests," Australian Associated Press reported.

"The people of America and Australia are bound by shared values of freedom and democracy. We are grateful to the Australian people for being in the forefront of the global war on terrorism and look forward to the continued vitality of an alliance that serves the cause of peace around the world," it quoted Cooper as saying.

Latham accused Prime Minister John Howard's government of playing a subservient role in the alliance and concentrating too much on links with Washington at the cost of ties with Asia. He earlier pledged to bring home the 850 Australian troops in and around Iraq if his Labor Party wins elections expected later this year.

Latham's office did not immediately return calls yesterday. But he told the Herald: "I will always maintain that Australia should be an equal partner in the alliance, I'm glad the official from the State Department agrees."

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