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Joe Biden described Australia as “an anchor to peace and prosperity” while standing alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden described Australia as “an anchor to peace and prosperity” while standing alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House on Wednesday, part of a state visit intended to deepen an alliance that’s increasingly viewed as a critical counterweight to China’s influence in the Pacific.

It was the ninth and most high-profile meeting between the two leaders, reflecting their work toward closer ties on climate change, technology and national security. The United States also plans to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia in the coming years, part of a collaboration with the United Kingdom.

“We renewed our commitment to defend the values that are at the heart of this alliance,” Biden said. “We continue to stand as one to forge a better future for both of us and all of the region.”

The state visit, only the fourth since Biden took office, came against the backdrop of escalating fighting between Israel and Hamas. Biden began a joint press conference with Albanese by expressing concern about the violence and calling for renewed dedication toward the eventual creation of a Palestinian state.

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