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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 February 2007, 05:41 GMT
US vice-president pledge on Hicks
John Howard (left) with Dick Cheney
Mr Cheney held talks with Australian PM John Howard
The US is doing all it can to speed up the judicial process for the sole Australian in Guantanamo Bay, US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said.

Mr Cheney said that David Hicks was "near the head of the queue" for trial and confirmed he would serve his sentence in Australia if convicted.

His comments came after a meeting with Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

The two allies also discussed military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ties with China.

Mr Cheney used the news conference after the meeting to issue a warning to Iran, stating that "all options are still on the table" and refusing to rule out force over the nuclear issue.

The US vice-president is on a three-day visit to Australia following security talks in Japan. His visit has triggered protests from demonstrators opposing the Iraq war.

'No more delay'

There has been growing pressure on Mr Howard to press for a resolution to the detention of Mr Hicks.

David Hicks
David Hicks has been detained in Guantanamo Bay for five years

The 31-year-old Muslim convert has been held at Guantanamo Bay for five years. He was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 for allegedly fighting with the Taleban.

Mr Howard told journalists he had asked Mr Cheney for the trial to "be brought on as soon as humanly possible and that there be no further delay".

The US was "doing everything we can to deal with these matters in as expeditious a manner as possible", Mr Cheney said.

The US vice-president did not reveal whether he had asked Australia to increase its troop deployment in Iraq.

"It's not for us to suggest to... allies what their appropriate response might be," he said, going on to praise Australia for its "exceptional" cooperation in Iraq.

Australia currently has about 1,450 military personnel based in Iraq or involved in Iraq-related operations.

Mr Howard is under considerable domestic pressure to commit to a timetable for withdrawing Australian troops, but earlier this week he announced the deployment of another 70 military advisors.

China ties

On China, Mr Howard said Australia took a practical view.

Mr Cheney on Friday had expressed concern over China's military build-up and recent use of a missile to destroy a satellite.

"We have no illusions that China remains an authoritarian country," Mr Howard said.

But he went on: "We have sought to emphasise in our relations with China those practical things that we have in common."

The two leaders are to hold more informal talks over lunch. Mr Cheney leaves Australia on Sunday.




SEE ALSO
Cheney warns on Chinese build-up
23 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Sydney clashes over Cheney visit
22 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
US releases details against Hicks
16 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
The 'Australian Taleban'
13 Dec 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Howard faces election year battle
15 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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