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Joe Biden apologises to Anthony Albanese after cancelling Sydney Quad meeting at last minute
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Joe Biden apologises to Anthony Albanese after cancelling Sydney Quad meeting at last minute

The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has met the US president, Joe Biden, on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Japan and signed an agreement to advance climate and clean energy action.

Albanese is holding a round of key talks at the G7 summit as some of the world’s most powerful leaders convene, with a rescheduled Quad meeting on the agenda.

Albanese met with United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Saturday and held a bilateral meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the summit in Hiroshima.

Biden apologised to Albanese for not meeting him in Sydney after the US president had to cancel his attendance at a planned Quad meeting next week that was to include the leaders of Japan and India.

The US president cancelled as he has to attend to US debt level negotiations with Republicans in the US Congress.

“I deeply appreciate the flexibility of meeting me here at the G7 meeting,” Biden told Albanese at a press conference on Saturday.

“I truly apologise to you for having you to come here, rather than me being in Australia right now.”

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.

“This is a huge step forward in our fight against the climate crisis and I want to thank you for your strong leadership and your partnership in this challenge,” Biden told Albanese.

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 Albanese for a state visit in Washington DC later this year.

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.

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“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.”

Albanese thanked 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.

Albanese earlier discussed with Guterres the importance of supporting small island nations with finance, climate change resilience and adaptation.

The three-day G7 summit spans global peace, including tackling Russian and Chinese aggression, as well as the transition to clean energy and developments in artificial intelligence.

Australia announced new sanctions against Russian entities and a ban on machinery being exported to Kremlin-controlled areas in a co-ordinated effort with G7 nations to stop the invasion of Ukraine.

“The G7 is a critical body of seven of the world’s largest democracies coming together at a time in which we have global instability,” Albanese said on arrival in Japan on Friday.

“We have global instability in our security issues with the ongoing illegal Russian invasion of Ukraine, but we also have tension in our own region.”

Albanese said while the Quad meeting would be a shortened one, a lot of preparation work had already been done.

“We will have, I think, a successful meeting as well as successful bilaterals,” he said.

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