Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has arrived at the White House for a private dinner with U.S. President Joe Biden.
Mr. Albanese and partner Jodie Haydon arrived in a black motorcade at the south entrance of the White House on the evening of Oct. 24, which was Wednesday morning in Australia.
On a red carpet, Mr. Albanese and Ms. Haydon posed for a photo with President Biden and wife First Lady Jill Biden before entering the residence.
“Welcome to the White House,” President Biden was heard saying at the entrance.
The private dinner is being held ahead of an official state visit and dinner on the south lawn of the Whitehouse with 100 guests on Oct. 25.
Whitehouse National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, highlighted the Middle East, clean energy, artificial intelligence, AUKUS, internet connectivity in the Pacific, and innovation among topics that will be discussed during the state visit.
“We expect the situation in the Middle East to come up in the conversations with Prime Minister Albanese tomorrow,” Mr. Kirby said.
“The President is looking forward to the state visit. There is an awful lot on the plate with this important ally and key partner in the region.”
Biden Looking Forward to State Visit
Mr. Kirby said the leaders will be announcing an advanced technology cooperation, “particularly on artificial intelligence.”
“This tech innovation piece will also be highlighting a new space agreement that will allow U.S. companies to launch into space from Australia—so, pretty exciting there,” he said.
Other points of conversation may include “continuing to work on the AUKUS implementation,” “tackling the climate crisis,” “committing to clean energy,” and increasing defense cooperation to “include trilateral cooperation with Japan.”
Asked if countering Beijing would come up in discussions between the leaders, Mr. Kirby said the Biden administration understands and fully supports Mr. Albanese visiting China after the United States.
“Well, I think we fully support and understand that the Prime Minister wants to—to meet with President Xi and travel to Beijing,” Mr. Kirby said.
“The—so, conversations with the Chinese and keeping the lines of communication open is really important. The President has said that many, many times. And, of course, Australia is—you know, their relationship with China is incredibly important to them as well, to manage it.”
Mr. Albanese is planning to travel to China early next month, from Nov. 4 to 7.
$2 Billion for Critical Minerals
Earlier on Oct. 25, Mr. Albanese announced a $2 billion expansion of the critical minerals facility with Australian and U.S. industry leaders.
Critical minerals in Australia include lithium, magnesium, cobalt and rare earth elements. Lithium is a critical component in electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
Mr. Albanese and Resource Minister Madeleine King announced the funding following the first meeting of the Australia and United States taskforce on critical minerals.
The prime minister said the government is “committed to transforming Australia into a renewable energy superpower.”
“Australia is committed to building sustainable and secure critical minerals supply chains with the United States. This is central to building a clean energy future and delivering economic growth,” Mr. Albanese said.
“The expansion of the Critical Minerals Facility will help to build supply chains with the United States and support our shared clean energy, manufacturing and defence ambitions.”
Resources Minister Madeleine King added that, “The Australia-United States Taskforce on Critical Minerals will be a key part of progressing our work under the compact.”
“This week we agreed on priority areas of work and immediate actions such as joint supply chain mapping and deeper cooperation between our science agencies on critical minerals,” she said.
“The road to net zero runs through Australia’s resources sector.”
Funding for Ukraine
The prime minister also revealed Australia would be delivering an additional $20 million to Ukraine for defence assistance.
This will include equipment such as counter-drone systems, de-mining equipment, and X-ray equipment.
“I am proud to announce that Australia will deliver an additional $20 million of defence assistance to Ukraine, in the form of innovative and locally-developed industry equipment,” Mr. Albanese said.
“Australian innovation will equip the brave people of Ukraine with some of the best capabilities in the world.”
Mr. Albanese thanked Australian defence industry partners for their support and the difference it will make to the Ukrainian people.
Earlier, Mr. Albanese laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in the United States.
He also paid respect to fallen servicemen and women, as well as two Australians buried at Arlington.
From The Epoch Times