Joe Biden has downplayed concerns from Congress regarding the Aukus agreement for nuclear-powered submarines and has stated that he reassured Xi Jinping that the intention of the involved countries is not to encircle China.
The American leader greeted the Australian head of government, Anthony Albanese, at the White House and expressed his belief that they would be able to secure funding for Aukus, as it greatly benefits both countries.
During a joint press conference with Albanese in the rose garden, Biden stated that the question is not a matter of if, but rather when. The press conference took place on Wednesday in the US and Thursday in Australia.
Biden also shared a discussion he had with the president of China regarding the Aukus security alliance, which aims to foster collaboration between Australia, the US, and the UK on advanced defense capabilities.
Biden said, “Xi Jinping asked me if we were trying to encircle China when we negotiated the deal.”
I stated that we are not encircling China. We are simply ensuring that the sea lanes remain accessible and that they cannot unilaterally alter the regulations for what is considered international airspace, water, space, etc.
Biden and Albanese addressed the media following extensive discussions at the White House. They promised to work together in various areas, including outer space, with an agreement facilitating the launch of American commercial spacecraft from Australia.
There was a strong focus on collaborating with countries in the Pacific region as competition for influence in the area increased.
The leaders declared intentions for the US and Australia to jointly fund important projects for marine infrastructure in Kiribati, such as the restoration of Kanton Wharf and Charlie Wharf in Tarawa. They will also provide support to Pacific nations with banking services and submarine cables.
The discussions primarily focused on the climate emergency, including proposals to work together on battery supply chains in order to enhance manufacturing capabilities and conduct research and development on battery technology.
Biden and Albanese stated together that meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement will necessitate swift implementation of sustainable energy and decarbonization technologies, as well as greater use of electricity in our nations during this decade, while also reducing the use of coal power without carbon capture.
This was the ninth meeting between Albanese and Biden since the May 2022 election. However, most of the previous meetings took place on the sidelines of international events.
On Tuesday evening, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden hosted a private dinner at the White House for Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon. The primary diplomatic discussions took place on Wednesday.
The day started with a greeting on the south lawn of the White House, followed by an official meeting between the two leaders in the Oval Office.
Biden started the meeting by once again apologizing for not being able to visit Australia in May due to the cancellation of the Quad summit in Sydney caused by debt ceiling discussions in the US.
Biden informed Albanese that things were somewhat chaotic and needed to be addressed at home.
During a meeting in the Oval Office, Biden shared with Albanese that Xi Jinping had asked him why he was putting in so much effort with Australia. Biden’s response was that the United States is a Pacific nation and intends to remain one.
Albanese will be honored with a state dinner on Wednesday evening in the United States (Thursday morning in Australia).
Biden praised the relationship with Australia as robust and continuously growing, while Albanese stated that the partnership is rooted in a shared commitment to freedom, democracy, and creating a prosperous and harmonious world.
Seven months have passed since Albanese, Biden, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gathered in San Diego to announce the Aukus plans. Despite this, there is still some uncertainty surrounding the necessary congressional approvals for the plans to be successful.
The implementation of Aukus will necessitate changes to the export control system in the US. Additionally, Congress must approve the sale of at least three Virginia-class submarines to Australia in the 2030s. However, some Republicans have expressed worries that this may detract from the US’s own requirements. The Australian-made nuclear-powered submarines are expected to be operational by the 2040s.
Biden joined Albanese on Wednesday to call 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.
Albanese stated that the bond he shares with the president is unparalleled compared to any other relationships he has globally or within his own country.
The prime minister expressed his strong belief that the Aukus arrangements have received wide support from both Democrats and Republicans in his discussions with them.
Albanese expressed anticipation for “a productive conversation” during his upcoming trip to China. He emphasized the significance of these discussions in promoting understanding and easing tensions.
When asked if Australia could rely on China, Biden emphasized the significance of “trust but verify.”
Biden and Albanese addressed the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict in their conversation. In their joint statement, they firmly denounced Hamas’ actions against Israel as unjustifiable and illegitimate, calling for universal condemnation of such attacks.
The two leaders promised to stand behind Israel as it protects itself and its citizens from these terrible acts. They also urged all parties to abide by international law and prioritize the safety of civilians.
Biden and Albanese expressed their worry about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and urged all parties involved to guarantee the delivery of necessary aid to those in need.
We still stand behind the desire of Palestinians for their own state and believe that a two-state solution is the most effective path to achieving lasting peace.
Albanese declared that an extra $15 million would be allocated by Australia to offer humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza.