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Bush Awards Medal of Freedom to Top Allies

President Bush bestowed three of his closest foreign allies with the highest civilian award in the nation Tuesday at the White House.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, as well as former British Prime Minister and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a formal ceremony in the East Room. 

Bush praised the recipients for their support in the War on Terror, calling Blair a defender of human values; Howard a "man of steel"; and Uribe a "model of leadership."

"The opportunity to know them and work with them has been among the great satisfactions of my time as president," Bush said. Before Tuesday's ceremony, Bush had awarded 78 such medals during his term as president.

Howard stirred some controversy when it was revealed that he was the lone overnight guest at Blair House, the official state guest house located across from the White House. His stay prevented President-elect Barack Obama from moving into the house with his family in the weeks before the inauguration. 

White House officials claimed the previously scheduled daytime events kept Blair House unavailable for the Obamas.

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