President Joe Biden greeted Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House on Oct. 25. The two leaders discussed ways to strengthen ties in the areas of technology, supply chains, defense, and security. They also discussed supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s continued aggression as well as standing with Israel in the aftermath of Hamas attacks.
The visit comes after President Biden abruptly canceled his trip to Sydney in May for the Quad Leaders’ Summit because of needing to deal with debt ceiling negotiations with House Republicans.
“Mr. Prime Minister, the alliance between Australia and the United States has never been more important than it is today, and we have never been more committed than we are today,” President Biden said during the official arrival ceremony at the White House.
The meeting took place against a difficult backdrop for President Biden, who’s “working around the clock” to secure the release of American hostages held by Hamas following the terrorist group’s attacks in Israel on Oct. 7.
Both leaders strongly condemned the terrorism and reiterated Israel’s right to self-defense.
“We urge regional de-escalation and do not want to see this conflict widen, expand, or deepen. We support ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas,” a White House statement reads.
Both leaders also urged Israel to follow international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians in Gaza.
“Together, the United States and Australia are delivering more than $115 million in humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank,” the statement reads.
The meeting between President Biden and Mr. Albanese seeks to strengthen U.S.–Australian cooperation in advanced technology and space, clean energy supply chains, critical minerals, defense, and security. This is the ninth meeting in just 16 months since Mr. Albanese was elected prime minister.
The White House hosted nearly 4,000 guests for the official arrival of the prime minister and his partner, Jodie Haydon.
At the March 13 trilateral meeting in San Diego, AUKUS—a strategic alliance between Australia, the UK, and the United States—confirmed Australia’s acquisition of a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability as soon as possible.
Australia will buy three Virginia-class hunter submarines by the early 2030s, with an option to buy two more as part of the trilateral security pact.
The submarines will be added to Australia’s aging, six-sub fleet in response to China’s increasingly aggressive posture in the Indo-Pacific, especially in the South China Sea, where it’s building military bases on artificial islands abreast of shipping lanes and air trade routes.
“We’re conscious that this is only the second time in history that the United States has shared this technology. And this fact speaks to the deep trust of our alliances and the significance of the challenge that we face together,” Mr. Albanese said during a joint press conference in the White House Rose Garden. “Australia appreciates the administration’s efforts to operationalize AUKUS and work with Congress to pass the legislation needed to realize our AUKUS ambitions.”
Prior to leaving for the United States, Mr. Albanese confirmed a trip to China in early November, where he’ll meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Mr. Albanese defended the China trip, saying that he hopes to engage in “constructive dialogue” during his visit to Shanghai and Beijing.
“It is in Australia’s interests as well as China’s” to establish a dialogue-based relationship, he said during the press conference. “And hence I welcome the fact that I have been invited to China.”
John Haughey contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times