The Prime Minister, John Howard, is to visit the United States next week. In a statement released today, Howard says:
I will visit Washington DC from 8 to 13 June 2002.
I will participate, along with President Bush, in a meeting of the International Democratic Union (IDU). The meeting is a major gathering of senior political party leaders from more than 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
During my visit, I will address a Joint Meeting of the United States Congress, the first time since 1988 that Australia has been so honoured. My address to the Congress scheduled for my visit to Washington last year had to be postponed due to the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11.
I will also hold talks with key figures in the US administration and on Capitol Hill on a wide range of economic and security issues.
The United States is Australia’s largest foreign investor, our second largest trading partner and our closest ally. The ANZUS security alliance between Australia and the United States was invoked for the first time following the attacks of 11 September. Australian forces are engaged in and around Afghanistan with US and other coalition partners.
I look forward to this visit and the opportunity to strengthen further a long-standing and warm bilateral relationship.
International Democratic Union
According to its website:
The International Democrat Union (IDU) is a working association of over 80 Conservative, Christian Democrat and like-minded political parties of the centre and centre right.
Formed in 1983, the IDU provides a forum in which Parties holding similar beliefs can come together and exchange views on matters of policy and organisational interest, so that they can learn from each other, act together, establish contacts and speak with one strong voice to promote democracy and centre-right policies around the globe. Founder Members of the IDU included Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then Vice-President George Bush Sr, Jacques Chirac – now President of France, Chancellor Helmut Kohl and many other Party Leaders.
Countries can only develop their full potential if they develop recognising the ideals of liberal democracy, freedom of the individual, and the need for economic growth to be based on individual initiative and free, competitive enterprise economies. The IDU has a clear role in a modern world, where today’s idea in one country is tomorrow’s policy in another.
Through the IDU, member Parties can exchange policy ideas, assist each other to win the political argument, and to win elections. There are regular meetings of both the full IDU and its Regional Unions and Organisations. The officers of the IDU are elected at Party Leaders’ Meetings which are held every three or four years. At IDU Executive Meetings, briefings are given on local and topical issues, as well as consideration given to applicant parties. Apart from Executive Meetings, the IDU holds annual events such as the Young Leaders Forum, plus projects like the special visit undertaken to Zimbabwe. A major event is also held every four years to coincide with the Republican Convention, the last one being held in July 2000 in Philadelphia, where George W. Bush was selected as the Republican Presidential candidate.
The IDU has over 80 Member Parties from over 60 countries belonging to itself or one of its Regional Unions. It is the only international organisation of its kind with full members from both Russia and the USA. Many of its members come from democracies newly established during the 1990s.
In addition to full membership of the IDU, parties can also join one of the Regional Unions or the Women’s and Youth Organisations under the International Democrat Union umbrella.
Members of the IDU and the Regional Unions use these organisations to develop the centre-right political agenda, to build democracy around the world, co-operate on foreign policy, share campaigning techniques and ideas and nurture the next generation of political leaders.