President Bush met Tuesday at the White House with one of his closest allies in the war on terror - Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The talks focused on a wide range of topics, including Indonesia's role in combating terrorism.
The two men had a wide ranging agenda for their talks. But in their public comments, they focused on one overriding theme: the importance of combating terrorism.
"I admire John Howard's understanding that the war on terror still goes on and that we have got to be steadfast and firm if we intend to succeed," he said.
At a joint news conference after their talks, President Bush called Prime Minister Howard a friend and a good strategic thinker. The Australian leader said the battle against terror will require persistence.
"The war against terror will go on for a long time," he said. "I think we have to accept that. Progress is being made, but the challenge remains very, very strong."
Mr. Howard said he discussed the unique challenges in his region with the president. He said he highlighted the importance of Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim nation.
"The success and prosperity of moderate Islamic leadership in that country is itself a very important factor in the long term success of the fight against terrorism," he said.
He said the fight against terrorism is not just a military battle, but an intellectual one. He said providing the Islamic world with a successful democratic model as an alternative to fanaticism is key.