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Watch Live: Biden holds joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at White House

Washington — President Biden is holding a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House during a state visit on Wednesday, as the crisis in Israel and Gaza continues to dominate foreign policy.

The two leaders held a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office, and a state dinner is slated for Wednesday evening. Nearly 4,000 spectators on the South Lawn of the White House were on hand for the official arrival ceremony for Albanese and his partner, Jodie Haydon, earlier in the day.

The president began his press conference remarks by addressing the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“Israel has the right, and I would add, responsibility, to respond to the slaughter of their people, and we will ensure Israel has what it needs to defend itself against these terrorists, that’s a guarantee,” the president said. “We also have to remember that Hamas does not represent, let me say it again, Hamas does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip or anywhere else. Hamas is hiding behind Palestinian civilians and it’s despicable, and not surprisingly, cowardly as well. This also puts an added burden on Israel while they go after Hamas. But that does not lessen the need to operate and align with the laws of war. … Israel has to do everything in its power, as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians.”

Both Mr. Biden and Albanese stressed the vital importance of the U.S.-Australian relationship.

“The alliance between Australia and the United States has never been more important than it is today, and we have never been more committed than we are today,” Mr. Biden said at the arrival ceremony as Albanese looked on. “Australia and America stand ready to do the hard work, the historic work, to tackle the challenges we face.”

Mr. Biden added in their Oval Office meeting, “Today, we are taking our alliance even further.”

For his part, Albanese said the two nations stand fast against all acts of aggression, including from Russia and Hamas.

The Indo-Pacific region is sure to be a topic of discussion for the two leaders, as they focus on the need for less international and regional reliance on China. They will also discuss the plan to ship nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. But the war between Israel and Hamas will be a major point of discussion, too, given Mr. Biden’s focus on the conflict and the potential for escalation in the region.

The president said he and Albanese will talk about how they “stand with Israel in the wake of Hamas’s appalling terrorist attack.”

Asked Tuesday if humanitarian aid is reaching Gaza fast enough, the president responded, “Not fast enough.”

Mr. Biden is urging Congress to pass a supplemental package that includes billions in aid for Israel, but the House is paralyzed from passing legislation until lawmakers elect a new speaker. House Republicans intend to vote on the latest GOP speaker nominee, Rep. Mike Johnson, on Wednesday.

At a dinner at the White House on Tuesday, Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden presented the prime minister with an antique writing desk, designed by an American company in Michigan, the White House said. The first lady gave Haydon a hand-crafted green enamel and diamond necklace.

How to watch Biden speak with Australian prime minister

What: President Biden holds a press conference with Australia’s prime ministerDate: Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023Time: 1:15 p.m. ETLocation:The White HouseOnline stream: Live on CBS News streaming in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device

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