Biden says US and Australia ‘stand together’ as he welcomes Albanese to White House

The US and Australia have a decades-long alliance that has grown more important as Washington seeks to counter Chinese influence

Andrew Feinberg
Wednesday 25 October 2023 16:33 BST
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Biden welcomes Australia PM Anthony Albanese to White House

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday said America’s longstanding alliance with Australia has never been stronger as the two countries deepen their cooperation in military, scientific and technological affairs as part of US efforts to counter Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific.

Mr Biden hailed the decades-long alliance between Washington and Canberra as he welcomed Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the White House for a state visit.

Speaking on the South Lawn alongside, Mr Albanese, Mr Biden recalled how Apollo 11 Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s moon landing was beamed to television screens across the world through the work of Australian engineers at a Nasa-operated relay station, and characterised that work as part of the long history of Americans and Australians working together for a greater purpose.

“Mr Prime Minister, today Australia and the United States continue to stand together, continue to innovate, to push back the bounds that had been in our way and make a giant step toward what could be, to race on toward a future we know is possible if if we work together,” he said. “Because time and time again, we've seen what America and Australia can do when we stand as one”.

The president also recounted the long history of military alliance between the two Anglosphere countries, starting with US participation in the First and Second World Wars and continuing on through the post-9/11 War on Terror, when Australia invoked the ANZUS treaty and came to America’s aid during the US invasion of Afghanistan.

“We'll never forget those brave Australians and Americans, who generation after generation, gave their lives to give us a better world. We'll never forget our obligation to them, to keep upholding the democratic values for which they gave their lives, to keep forging a better future for generations to come,” he said.

Mr Biden added that the US and Australia are continuing that long history and “meeting that obligation” by helping to ensure that the Indo-Pacific region “remains free, open and prosperous and secure,” including through implementation of the trilateral AUKUS agreement to provide Australia with British and American know-how towards the development of nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.

Mr Albanese’s visit to Washington — the second state visit by an Australian leader in the last four years — comes as the US is leading two international coalitions in support of democratic allies at war, Israel and Ukraine.

Mr Biden alluded to these efforts in his remarks, noting that the US and Australia are “standing with Israel against Hamas terrorism and “standing with Ukraine against Putin's tyranny” as both nations are “proving that democracy can deliver on the challenges that matter most to people's lives, from climate change to cancer”.

“The alliance between Australia and United States has never been more important than it is today. And we have never been more committed than we are today. Australia and America stand ready, ready to do the hard work and historic work to tackle the challenges we face. Ready to take a giant leap together toward a better future,” he said.

For his part, Mr Albanese thanked Mr Biden for the “great honour” of inviting him to the White House for a state visit and said the “heart” of the Australia-US alliance and the “soul of our partnership” is “not a pact against a common enemy” but is instead a “pledge to a common cause, a shared belief that freedom, peace and equality. are not just American ideals or Australian values”.

“They belong to all humankind,” he said.

“That is why Ukrainian soldiers are driving Australian made Bushmasters as they drive back an illegal and immoral invasion and, it is why all Australians condemned the atrocities, terror and ... brutality of Hamas”.

Mr Albanese praised Mr Biden for what he described as “the personal resolve” the US president brought to “this troubled part of the world”.

“You have spoken with moral clarity and you have stood up for a simple principle, the principle that every innocent life matters, Israeli and Palestinian, and that in every conflict, every effort must be made to protect civilians,” he said.

“American leadership is indispensable, but it is not inevitable. It takes a leader to deliver it. It takes wisdom to show empathy, courage to provide humanitarian assistance and true leadership to seek peace because protecting innocent people is not a show of weakness. It is a measure of strength”.

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