13 July, 2024
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Albanese and Biden affirm Australian-US partnership

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President Joe Biden has described the Australia-US alliance as “an anchor to peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific” while standing by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House.

Mr Albanese’s state visit is intended to deepen an alliance that’s increasingly viewed as a critical counterweight to China’s influence in the Pacific.

It was the ninth and most high-profile meeting between the leaders, reflecting their work towards closer ties on climate change, technology and national security.

Both leaders expressed hope the appointment of a new House speaker in the US would facilitate approval of the sale of US nuclear-powered submarines to Australia as part of the AUKUS deal.

“We renewed our commitment to defend the values that are at the heart of this alliance,” Mr Biden said.

“We continue to stand as one to forge a better future for both of us and all of the region.”

The state visit is only the fourth since Mr Biden took office.

Mr Biden said the alliance was characterised by “imagination, ingenuity and innovation”, and they would “race undaunted to a future we know is possible if we work together”.

Mr Albanese said the “soul of our partnership” was “not a pact against a common enemy”, but “a pledge to a common cause”.

Mr Biden said Australia was a critical partner, along with 50 other nations, in defending Ukraine’s sovereignty against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “brutality and aggression”

Mr Albanese, who discussed the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict with Mr Biden, said Australia “unequivocally condemns the terrorism of Hamas”.

“We grieve for the loss of every innocent life, whether that be Israeli or Palestinian,” he said.

The prime minister announced that Australia would provide a further $US15 million ($A24 million) ($A24 million) ($A24 million) in humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza.

 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has had talks with US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office. Image by EPA PHOTO 

The two leaders also said they would work together on supporting economic development among Pacific island nations, a key arena as the US seeks the upper hand in the region.

They plan to invest in building maritime infrastructure and laying undersea cables to strengthen internet connectivity.

They also want to have US companies launch space missions from Australia, and Microsoft announced it would spend $US3 billion ($A4.8b) on cybersecurity, cloud computing and artificial intelligence there.

The initiatives come on top of a previously announced defence arrangement in which the US will sell and build nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.

The collaboration, which also involves the United Kingdom, is known as AUKUS, an acronym for the three countries’ names.

Mr Albanese arrived at the White House on Wednesday morning as a military band played and 4000 guests watched from the South Lawn.

After a one-on-one discussion in the Oval Office followed by bilateral talks with US cabinet secretaries, Mr Albanese and Mr Biden held a joint media conference in the Rose Garden.

Mr Albanese said the two had discussed “our joint position standing against Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine” and the Middle East conflict.

The friendship between the nations, he said, “has been forged in hard times, we have served and sacrificed together in the cause of peace, we have helped each other through natural disasters. Australia and America share a rich history but we have our eye on the future.”

“The relationship has never been more important, or stronger, than it is right now.”

with Reuters

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