New Zealand pm Ardern meets Biden, discusses climate, extremism

New Zealand pm Ardern meets Biden, discusses climate, extremism

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern met US president Joe Biden to discuss shared concerns about China's growing influence in the Pacific, as well as the aftermath of mass shootings.

Biden said that Ardern's leadership on issues like climate change, violence and extremism was of international importance, and that he was a leader in the two leaders for more than an hour.

Biden said that leadership has taken a critical role in this global stage. It really has galvanised action on climate change, global efforts to curb violence, extremism, and online, like happened in Christchurch. The visit was significant for New Zealand, as it was the first time a prime minister had visited the Oval Office since 2014. It comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Pacific region, where New Zealand is looking to shore up relationships with China as a result of a push to sign Pacific Island nations on to new security and economic pacts. The two leaders loomed large with their experiences with mass shootings, gun control and extremism.

Ardern's trip coincided with the aftermath of the mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The prime minister s own history on gun control banning most automatic weapons in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings, which killed 51 in 2019, made the issue an unexpected focus of her trip, especially for Americans frustrated by lack of legislative action on gun control.

Ardern said that our experience is of course our own on mass shootings. If there is anything that we can share that would be of any value, we are here to share it. Biden spoke about the grief following the shootings in New York and Texas, as he struggles to push Congress to tighten gun laws. An Irish poet says too long a suffering makes a stone of the heart. There is an awful lot of suffering. I've been to more mass shooting aftermaths than any president in American history, unfortunately. He said that most of it is preventable, and the devastation is amazing.

He spoke about his recent experience of spending hours speaking to Texas survivors and those who lost loved ones, and said that he wanted to speak with Ardern about her own conversations in the wake of the Christchurch attacks, including the Christchurch call, an international effort to curb online violent extremism.

I want to work with you on that effort. If you re willing, I want to talk to you about what those conversations were like.

After the meeting, Ardern said: While in New Zealand we know we have more work to do on the issue of gun crime, we can share what we learned from the changes we made. For New Zealand, the highest priorities were trade, climate, and the security of the Indo-Pacific region, where China has become an increasingly muscular player.

Biden emphasised that the US wanted to build relationships and work together in the region.

He said that he wanted to emphasise the last point you made: working together We are not coming to dictate or lay down the law We have more work to do in those Pacific islands.

Ardern said following the meeting that the conversation came at a critical moment and the two leaders agreed to work together in the pursuit of peace and stability and in defence of international rules-based order. Senior administration officials said that the two had spoken for much longer than expected, the meeting ran to 90 minutes.