Shakespeare said a rose would still smell as sweet no matter what other name we called it. The prime minister of an ally probably thought it stunk when the president called him something other than his name.
U.S. President Joe Biden called Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison “pal,” “Mr. Prime Minister” and “that fellow Down Under” during a Wednesday afternoon press conference. During the joint press conference with Prime Minister Morrison and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Biden had no problem addressing the British prime minister by name but stumbled when it came to the Australian.
“Thank you, Boris” Biden said to the British prime minister. Then he turned to the Australian prime minister.
“And I want to thank that fellow Down Under,” Biden said, pointing to the Australian PM. “Thank you very much, pal. Appreciate it, Mr. Prime Minister.” The president didn’t call the Australian by his name until he began reading his script from the teleprompter. Morrison didn’t visibly react to not being called by name early on.
Biden announced a trilateral security partnership with Britain and Australia, called AUKUS, during yesterday afternoon’s press conference with Johnson and Morrison. America will partner with Britain and Australia to share advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and defense capabilities.
“The first major initiative of AUKUS will be to deliver a nuclear-powered submarine fleet for Australia,” Morrison said. “This will include an intense examination of what we need to do to exercise our nuclear stewardship responsibilities here in Australia.” Morrison added the nuclear submarines would be built Adelaide, Australia.
Prime Minister Johnson added an important clarification about the nuclear submarines being built for Australia.
“We’re opening a new chapter in our friendship, and the first task of this partnership will be to help Australia acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, emphasizing, of course, that the submarines in question will be powered by nuclear reactors, not armed with nuclear weapons,” said Johnson.
Biden called the AUKUS treaty another historic step to deepen and formalize cooperation among the three countries who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder for more than a century:
- through the trench fighting in World War I
- the island hopping of World War II
- during the frigid winters in Korea
- the scorching heat of the Persian Gulf
“The United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have long been faithful and capable partners, and we’re even closer today,” Biden said. “We need to be able to address both the current strategic environment in the region and how it may evolve. Because the future of each of our nations — and indeed the world — depends on a free and open Indo-Pacific enduring and flourishing in the decades ahead.”
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