Global concerns top Australian PM Albanese’s White House state visit

October 25, 2023

President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden formally welcomed Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon to the White House Wednesday for the fourth state visit of Biden’s Administration.

Albanese has been in the U.S. since his flight landed Sunday. He visited Arlington National Cemetery on Monday to commemorate how Americans and Australians have fought alongside each other over the years. On Tuesday, the Bidens hosted a private dinner with Australia’s first couple and exchanged gifts at the White House.

On Wednesday, the agenda between the two world leaders was expected to cover a number of national security topics, particularly as Biden pushes long-term plans to counter China’s influence around the world. 

The U.S. and Australia are members of the Quad nations, along with India and Japan, focuing on foreign policy concerns in their respective regions. In May, Biden had to cancel a trip to Australia for a Quad summit while the U.S. government was bogged down with debt ceiling talks. 

The Australian PM’s state visit comes amid global focus on the Israel-Hamas war and the Ukraine-Russia war, both of which are among immediate concerns. Other issues expected to be discussed between Biden and Albanese included a U.S. deal to develop nuclear submarines in Australia, a collaboration which also involves the United Kingdom.

There are also reported plans to have U.S. companies launch space missions from Australia, and Microsoft announced it would spend $3 billion on cybersecurity, cloud computing and artificial intelligence in that country.

Further, the  U.S. and Australia plan to work together on building maritime infrastructure and laying undersea cables to strengthen internet connectivity, according to senior Biden Administration officials.

During an arrival ceremony on the White House lawn Wednesday morning, Biden said the U.S. and Australia “race undaunted toward a future we know is possible if we work together.”

When Albanese took the lectern, he said to Biden, “To stand with you here in Washington DC is to witness the power of America’s example, the ideas and ideals that your great democracy was built on, the self-evident truths that every American generation strives to give deeper meaning, and the peace and freedom that America seeks to defend around the globe.” 

Meanwhile, Albanese is keeping an eye on his nation’s relations with China. He announced on Sunday that he would meet with President Xi Jinping next month, which would make him the first Australian PM to visit China in seven years. 

“It’s in Australia’s interest to have good relations with China,” Albanese told reporters.

PHOTO: Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Jodie Haydon with the Bidens

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