6 Jan 2009

Howard to get US Medal of Freedom

5:26 pm on 6 January 2009

President George Bush is to grant the United States Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Australian prime minister John Howard.

The medal is the highest US civilian honour.

The ABC reports it will be one of the president's final acts in his time at the White House.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and Columbia's president, Alvaro Uribe, will also receive the medal at a White House ceremony on 13 January.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said they are being honoured for their work "to improve the lives of their citizens and their efforts to promote democracy, human rights and peace abroad".

Mr Howard said on Tuesday that he was honoured to receive the award and was looking forward to meeting Mr Bush and Mr Blair.

He said he sees the award "very much as a compliment to Australia".

The medal was established by former president Harry Truman in 1945 to recognise civilians for their efforts during World War II.

The award was reinstated by former president John F Kennedy in 1963 to honour distinguished service.