Albanese says Australia will ‘strengthen’ US alliance in first meeting with Biden

Anthony Albanese has met for the first time as prime minister with US President Joe Biden, as both leaders confirmed they wanted to ensure the USAustralia alliance became even stronger.

The face-to-face followed a meeting of Quad leaders in Tokyo, including Biden, Albanese, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Biden said Albanese’s prompt appearance at the meeting so soon after his electoral victory illustrated that Australia was “all in” on the partnership.

President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during the Quad leaders summit meeting in Tokyo. (AP)

“I’m looking forward to having the chance to get to know you a bit more personally,” Biden said.

He said he was “proud” of the alliance between the US and Australia.

Albanese said he was proud to open his prime ministership with the Quad meeting.

“Australia and the US are great mates,” he said.

He referred to the US support of Australia during WWII, and said he wanted to “really strengthen” the alliance.

Earlier, Albanese said the Quad meeting had shown Australia’s change of government had not meant a change of heart on key alliances.

“The government in Australia has changed, but this was an opportunity to tell our Quad partners the US, Japan, and India, that the government’s commitment to the Quad has not changed,” Albanese said following the meeting.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has addressed the media after his first Quad meeting. (Alex Ellinghausen)

But Albanese wasn’t all about continuity – emphasising the new government’s “changed position” on climate action.

“That has been welcomed by these three nations in the Quad, and they welcomed it because it will strengthen what is an important issue in the Indo-Pacific,” Albanese said.

“I share the view that this is a national security issue.”

He confirmed that China’s bid for increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific had been discussed, including a recent security deal with the Solomon Islands.

Albanese with fellow Quad leaders US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. (AFP)

Ahead of the meeting, Albanese had spoken about the work that the Quad still had to do in the region, including building a “stronger more co-operative Indo-Pacific region that respects sovereignty”, and flagged an increase to Australia’s foreign aid budget.

“The region is looking to us to work with them and lead by example,” he said.

“That’s why my government will take ambitious action on climate change and increase our support to partners in the region, as they work to address it, including with new finance.”

Biden joked about Albanese’s rapid progression from winning an election to the Tokyo trip.

The Quad leaders discussed security in the Indo-Pacific. (Getty)

“You got sworn in, got on a plane and if you fall asleep while you’re here, it’s okay,” Biden said.

“It’s really quite extraordinary just getting off the campaign trail as well. Congratulations on your election.

“We greatly appreciate your commitment on being here so soon after taking office.”

Albanese speaks during the meeting. (AP)

Australia will host the next meeting of the four Quad nations’ leaders next year.

It will likely be Biden’s first visit to Australia as president, although he has previously visited the country as vice-president.

Ahead of meeting his Quad partners, Albanese picked up the phone to his United Kingdom counterpart, Boris Johnson, to discuss climate change and the AUKUS security pact.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese touches down in Japan. (Anthony Albanese)

According to Downing Street, Johnson suggested broadening the agreement into other areas.

“Discussing AUKUS, the leaders strongly agreed on its vital importance and the exciting opportunities it provided,” the UK Prime Minister’s office said, in a readout of the call. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday, May 23, 2022. (Anthony Albanese)

“The (UK) Prime Minister said he thought the trilateral grouping could go further together in other domains, where both countries could collaborate for the global good.”

Both leaders agreed there was “strong alignment” on global security, climate change and trade and highlighted the importance of the recently signed free trade agreement, Downing Street said.

Albanese and Wong will meet with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Tuesday for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in Tokyo to attend the Quad leaders’ summit, in Japan. (Alex Ellinghausen)

“The relationship with the United States is our most important, along with our relationships in the region and our multilateral commitments as well,” Albanese said on Monday.

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“The (Quad) meetings that we will have, not just with the United States, but importantly with our hosts in Japan and India are going to be very important, in a good way, to send a message to the world that there’s a new government in Australia and it’s a government that represents a change, in terms of the way that we deal with the world on issues like climate change but also a continuity in the way that we have respect for democracy and the way that we value our friendships and long time alliances.”

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