Biden assured Albanese at their White House meeting that the Aukus agreement will be finalized despite concerns from members of Congress.
Joe Biden downplayed concerns from Congress regarding the Aukus agreement for nuclear-powered submarines and explained that he reassured Xi Jinping that the involved countries do not have the intention of encircling China.
The White House hosted a meeting between the US president and Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese. The president expressed confidence in securing funds for Aukus, stating it is highly beneficial for both countries.
During a joint press conference with Albanese in the rose garden on Wednesday US time (Thursday Australian time), Biden stated that the question is not if, but rather when.
Biden also shared a discussion he had previously with the president of China regarding the Aukus security alliance, where Australia, the US, and the UK have committed to collaborating on cutting-edge defense capabilities.
Biden stated, “When we were asked about the timing of the deal, Xi Jinping asked if our intention was to encircle China.”
I stated that we are not encircling China. We are simply ensuring that the pathways in the sea stay accessible and that China cannot unilaterally alter the regulations for what is considered international airspace, water, and space.
Biden and Albanese spoke to reporters after wide-ranging talks at the White House. They pledged to cooperate in numerous fields, including space, with a deal paving the way for launches of US commercial space vehicles from Australia.
The focus was placed heavily on collaborating with Pacific nations as competition for influence in the region grew more intense.
The leaders have made a joint announcement regarding the plans for the United States and Australia to jointly fund important projects for maritime infrastructure in Kiribati. These projects include the repair of Kanton Wharf and Charlie Wharf in Tarawa. Additionally, they will offer support to Pacific nations for banking services and underwater cables.
The discussions focused on the climate emergency and included plans for cooperation in battery supply chains. There are intentions to further develop manufacturing capabilities and conduct research and development in battery technology for both countries.
In their combined declaration, Biden and Albanese recognized the necessity of swiftly implementing clean energy and decarbonization technologies, as well as promoting electrification in our nations within the next ten years. This effort will also involve the gradual decrease of coal power without carbon capture.
This was the ninth occasion on which Albanese and Biden had met since the May 2022 election. However, most of their previous meetings took place during international events.
On Tuesday evening, Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, hosted a private dinner at the White House for Albanese and his partner, Jodie Haydon. The primary discussions on diplomatic matters took place on Wednesday.
The morning started with a greeting on the southern lawn of the White House prior to a formal discussion between the two leaders in the Oval Office.
At the start of the meeting, Biden once again expressed his regret for not being able to visit Australia in May due to the cancellation of the Quad summit in Sydney caused by debt ceiling negotiations in the US.
Biden informed Albanese that things were a bit chaotic and needed to be taken care of at home.
During a meeting in the Oval Office, Biden informed Albanese, “A few years ago, Xi Jinping asked me why I was so invested in working with your country [Australia]. I replied that it’s because we are a Pacific nation and intend to remain one.”
Albanese will be honored at a formal dinner on Wednesday evening in the US (Thursday morning in AEDT time zone).
Biden stated that the relationship with Australia is robust and continuously improving. Albanese expressed that the partnership is founded on a commitment to liberty and democracy, a value for opportunities, and a dedication to creating a prosperous and harmonious global community.
But even though Albanese, Biden, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the Aukus plans in San Diego seven months ago, there is still some uncertainty surrounding the necessary congressional approvals for their success.
The implementation of Aukus will necessitate changes to the US export control system. Additionally, Congress must approve the sale of at least three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s. However, some Republican officials have expressed worries that this may detract from the US’s own priorities. The Australian-made nuclear-powered submarines are scheduled to be operational by the 2040s.
During a joint appearance with Albanese, Biden called on Congress to approve our Aukus legislation before the end of the year.
Albanese downplayed worries about the agreement, stating that he sees the US as a highly dependable ally.
“I consider my relationship with the president to be of utmost importance, surpassing all other relationships I have both internationally and domestically,” stated Albanese.
The prime minister expressed strong assurance in the conversations he has had with both Democrats and Republicans, stating that there is widespread backing for the Aukus agreements.
Albanese stated that he is anticipating a productive discussion during his upcoming trip to China. He believes that these talks are crucial for fostering understanding and decreasing tensions.
When asked if Australia could have confidence in China, Biden responded that it was crucial to “trust but verify.”
Biden and Albanese had a conversation about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. In their shared statement, they stated that the attacks by Hamas on Israel have no justification or legitimacy and must be denounced by all.
While pledging to “support Israel as it defends itself and its people against such atrocities”, the two leaders also called on “all parties to act consistent with the principles of international law and to protect civilians as an utmost priority”.
Biden and Albanese expressed their concern about the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza and urged all parties involved to make sure that necessary humanitarian aid is provided to the affected population.
“We remain committed to supporting the Palestinian desire for their own state and believe that a two-state solution is the most effective path towards achieving lasting peace.”
Albanese declared that Australia will supply an extra $15m in aid to support the civilians in Gaza.