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Obama grateful for service of selfless heroes

Date

Nick O'Malley in Washington

Side by side ... the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, holds a joint news conference with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mrs Clinton acknowledged the service of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.

Side by side ... the Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, holds a joint news conference with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Mrs Clinton acknowledged the service of Australian soldiers in Afghanistan. Photo: Reuters

THE US President, Barack Obama, has paid tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand.

''On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Australia and New Zealand on Anzac Day this April 25th,'' the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in a statement.

''Today we pay tribute to all the men and women in the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand who have served with dedication, courage, and sacrifice.

''We remember those who have given their lives and the families and friends who mourn them - they are the heroes who we honour every day by working to make our world safer and more secure.''

Earlier Mrs Clinton held a joint press conference with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Bob Carr, during which she also noted the service of Australian soldiers.

''Australian troops have fought bravely alongside NATO and Afghan forces,'' she said.

''Thirty-two Australian soldiers have lost their lives and on the eve of Anzac Day we honour their memory.''

Senator Carr said the strength of the alliance between the US and Australia had, in part, been forged in battle.

''On the Gettysburg battlefield on Sunday with ambassador [Kim] Beazley, I was reminded of the soaring words of Lincoln,'' he said.

''The United States conceived a constitution in the 1790s to give effect [to] that notion of government by the people, and Australians have adhered to democratic values ever since we won self-government in the middle of the 19th century.

''And that, on the bottom line, is what makes us respond to one another and find one another such comfortable allies.''

Senator Carr and Mrs Clinton held their first face-to-face talks yesterday since Mr Carr's sudden elevation. Mrs Clinton said the circumstances of his ascension had no effect on the relationship between the two nations.

''I'm picking up with Bob Carr right where we left off with Kevin Rudd,'' Mrs Clinton said.

The two spoke for nearly an hour, discussing the rotation of US marines through a base in Darwin, the US's refocusing on the Pacific region and the situation in Burma, North Korea and Afghanistan.

Senator Carr maintained the government's position that the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in 2013 had not cut short previous commitments.

''I had no explanation I have to give the Secretary of State because she was familiar with the Prime Minister's speech and understood it perfectly, as had everyone else in the US administration with whom I've spoken,'' he said.

Ms Clinton said she welcomed Australia's ongoing support of the international mission in Afghanistan and the commitment to continue to contribute funds to the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014.

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