President Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Tuesday to three of his closest foreign allies, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Bush said that Blair and the United Kingdom have stood by the United States since the 9/11 terror attacks.

"Under Tony Blair's leadership, the might and the moral authority of Great Britain have been applied to the war on terror from the day -- from the first day," Bush said. "Our nations have worked proudly together to destroy terrorist havens, liberate millions and help rising democracies serve the aspirations of their people."

Blair's support for the Iraq war hurt his popularity at home and preceded his departure as prime minister. But Bush said that Blair's decisions would wear well in the long run.

"Out of office, but still in public life, Tony Blair remains on the world stage as a man of high intelligence and insight and, above all, as a man of faith and idealism and integrity," Bush said. "The former prime minister of the United Kingdom will stand tall in history."

The president also honored Howard, another staunch Iraq war supporter, for standing by the United States.

"He never wavered in his support for liberty and free institutions, and the rule of law as the true and hopeful alternative to ideologies of violence and repression," Bush said. "He's a man of honesty and moral clarity. He can make a decision, he can defend it, and he stands his ground. That's why I called him a man of steel."

Bush said that Uribe was "resolute and uncompromising" against drug cartels in his home country, a position that has led to reductions in violence and in drug trafficking.

Bush said all three medal recipients had a similar type of character.

"They are the sort of guys who look you in the eye, and tell you the truth, and keep their word," he said. In lengthy service, they prove to be leaders of character and fortitude. They are warm friends of the United States of America. The opportunity to know them and work with them has been among the great satisfactions of my time as president. I respect them and I admire them."