Biden apologises to Albanese, thanks him for strong leadership

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and his counterparts from Japan, India and the United States have capped off a rescheduled Quad leaders’ meeting spruiking a “force for good” from their co-operation.

US President Joe Biden also apologised to Mr Albanese for not meeting him in Sydney.

“I deeply appreciate the flexibility of meeting me here at the G7 meeting,” he said.

The Quad members had been scheduled to meet in Sydney next week but rescheduled for the sidelines of the G7 to allow Mr Biden to return to Washington DC on Sunday in hopes of finalising a deal to increase the debt ceiling before the US runs out of cash to pay its bills.

Mr Biden told Mr Albanese that together, the two countries had expanded their co-operation across a range of challenges.

He lauded a new joint initiative signed by the United States and Australia that he says will “take one giant step forward in our fight against the climate crisis.”

The president said the two nations were launching a new joint initiative to accelerate the transition to clean energy, including building more resilient critical mineral supply chains.

Mr Biden said action on climate and clean energy would be another central pillar of the Australia-US alliance.

He said he looked forward to hosting Mr Albanese for a state visit in Washington DC later this year.

Mr Albanese told reporters action on climate change was “the entry fee to credibility in the Indo-Pacific”.

He said many of Australia’s neighbours understood climate change was an existential threat.

“We understand that it’s an important component of our national security,” he said.

In a statement, both leaders outlined their newly signed Statement of Intent: Climate, Critical Minerals, and the Clean Energy Transformation.

“The United States supports Australia’s actions towards becoming a renewable energy powerhouse globally and in the Indo-Pacific, supplying essential materials and products fundamental to meeting global climate goals,” the statement read.

“Similarly, Australia welcomes the United States’ actions to transform its domestic energy and industrial base to lead to the establishment of a global clean energy economy, leveraging its technological innovation to global benefit.”

Mr Albanese thanked Mr Biden for his support in the US Congress for ensuring Australia becomes a domestic source under the US defence production act, referring in part to Australia acquiring and helping build nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS partnership.

Quad meeting spruiks ‘force for good’

The Quad leaders – Prime Minister Albanese, President Biden, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishid and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – pledged to “act together as a force for good to find common solutions for region-wide benefit,” in a vision statement released after they met on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan on Saturday.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Albanese said the leaders were an “outcomes-focused grouping” that could “get things done”.

“My first act one year ago tomorrow, indeed, was, after being sworn in as prime minister, was to fly to Tokyo to represent Australia in Japan at the second Quad leaders’ summit,” Mr Albanese said.

“One year on, I’m absolutely delighted to be amongst close friends again here in Japan to continue our important work.”

Mr Albanese said the Quad partners stood for “an open, stable, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific region – a region where sovereignty is respected, and all countries large and small benefit from a regional balance that keeps the peace”.

“Respect for the leadership of regional institutions including ASEAN, the Pacific Island Forum and the Indian Ocean Rim Association is central to our approach,” he said.

Saturday’s vision statement of the Quad – whose leaders first met in a virtual format in March 2021 and held face-to-face talks in the US in September 2021 – said the group would build on past examples of co-operation.

“Recently, in our response to the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we joined together to expand safe, affordable and effective vaccine production and equitable access,” it said.

“The Indo-Pacific’s key challenges of health security, rapidly changing technology, the grave threat of climate change and the strategic challenges facing the region, summon us to act with renewed purpose.”

China issues harsh response to G7 leaders’ criticism.

The Chinese government has accused the wealthy industrial democracies in the G7 of “smearing China” and trying to “(interfere) in the internal affairs of other countries”.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman expressed the unusually harsh reaction on Saturday to the ongoing G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

The Chinese spokesman was reacting to the tougher stance that the G7 countries had taken towards China at their summit, at which leaders have discussed reducing economic dependency on the major power and limiting supply chain risks.

In a statement, the G7 also rejected China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas and warned against military action against democratic Taiwan.

The spokesman accused the G7 countries of “disregarding China’s serious concerns” and pursuing policies that will “hinder international peace, damage regional stability and suppress the development of other countries”.

China has expressed strong dissatisfaction and has protested to Japan, which is hosting the G7, as well as the countries concerned.

The spokesman described the G7 as a small group seeking to impose rules on the world that “serve the vested interests” of the United States and a handful of its allies.

In addition to the US, the G7 also includes Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and Canada as well as the European Union.

— with AAP

Topics: G7
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