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over 400,000 protest as howard remains defiant

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    Mon, Feb 17 2003 8:11 AM AEDT


    Millions rally across Europe [Getty]

    Over 400,000 protest as Howard remains defiant

    More than 400,000 people have rallied for peace across Australia today in Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin and Sydney.

    The largest turnout was in Sydney, where by police estimates, more than 200,000 people spread through the central business district, marching against war in Iraq.

    The mood was upbeat and defiant, sending Prime Minister John Howard a strong message that they disapproved of war with or without UN approval.

    In Brisbane, Labor leader Simon Crean addressed the rally, saying it is time Mr Howard listened.

    "The fact that he dismisses these as not representative goes to show how out of touch he is," Mr Crean said.

    "He's out of touch on many fronts but this is just another example of it."

    But Mr Howard told Channel 7 he will not be swayed.

    "Until I know the final international conditions on which Australian troops might be involved, I'm not going to take that final decision, I'm not required to and I shouldn't," he said.

    Bush responds

    The White House has responded to the global anti-war protests by issuing a statement saying President George W Bush sees war against Iraq as a last resort.

    Mr Bush has sought to reassure Americans the Government is working at all levels to protect them against a possible terrorist attack.

    In his weekly radio address to the nation, the US President says the best defence is vigilance.

    "These recent threats are a historical reminder that our country remains engaged in a war on terror," he said.

    "Our enemies are still determined to attack America and there is no such thing as perfect security against a hidden network of killers, yet I assure you that our Government, at every level, is responding to this threat, working to track down every lead and standing watch 24 hours a day against terrorism."

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