biden australia-1653382606756
Biden jokingly pretends to walk away as Albanese talks about his broad experiences in the US years ago as a guest of a State Department programme, during a bilateral meeting alongside the Quad Summit at Kantei Palace in Tokyo on May 24, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

Tokyo: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday welcomed Anthony Albanese to a regional leaders summit in Tokyo, joking that he’d understand if the newly elected Australian prime minister dozed off during the session.

“You got sworn in, got on the plane: If you fall asleep while you’re here, it’s OK. Because I don’t know how you’re doing it,” he said and chuckled. “It is really quite extraordinary. Just getting off the campaign trail as well.”

Albanese was sworn in Monday and quickly flew to Tokyo for summit meetings on Tuesday with Biden and other leaders of the Quad security partnership, even as vote counting continued to determine if his party would hold a majority.

“I’m proud our alliance is strong,” Biden said during a bilateral meeting with Albanese Tuesday, adding that he hoped the Australian could soon visit Washington.

The new Australian leader’s Labor Party ousted former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition in elections Saturday on promises to take swift action on climate change, reduce gender disparities and boost wages.

Albanese assured fellow leaders that the Australian government’s priorities were aligned with the Quad, promising to “take ambitious action on climate change,” including setting a target to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030.

Australia was one of a dozen Indo-Pacific nations to join a new US economic initiative designed to counter China’s influence in the region. The nations involved in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework comprise roughly 40% of global gross domestic product, but questions have been raised about its effectiveness.