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‘That fella Down Under’: Joe Biden forgets Australian PM Scott Morrison’s name during security pact announcement

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Joe Biden appeared to have a momentary lapse when addressing Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, referring to him as “that fella Down Under.”

The blunder took place as the US president announced a trilateral security partnership with Britain and Australia on international television.

It will see the three allies look to keep a check on China’s growing power in the Indo-Pacific. Their initial focus is to help Australia create a multibillion-dollar fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

During the historic event, Mr Biden turned to Boris Johnson to thank him for his contributions.

“Thank you Boris,” he said but then appeared to hesitate as he turned towards the TV screen featuring Mr Morrison.

“And I want to thank that fella down under. Thank you very much pal,” he said.

The Australian leader gave the thumbs up before Mr Biden eventually used his name.

“I’m honoured today to be joined by two of Australia’s closest allies, Australia and the United Kingdom, to launch a new phase of the trilateral security cooperation among our countries,” he said.

“As prime minister Morrison and prime minister Johnson said, I want to thank you for this partnership.”

The mishap took place during the joint announcement on Wednesday evening, when Mr Biden spoke from the White House in Washington with Mr Johnson and Mr Morrison appearing on television screens at either side.

US President Joe Biden speaks with Australian PM Scott Morrison (AP)
US President Joe Biden speaks with Australian PM Scott Morrison (AP)

Mr Johnson said the alliance, known by its acronym Aukus, would work “hand-in-glove to preserve security and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.

China was not mentioned in the cross-continental briefing but there was frequent reference to the changing situation in the region.

Earlier this year, in the integrated review of security and foreign policy, the UK government outlined plans for a “tilt” in focus towards the Indo-Pacific.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was deployed on a voyage east in a decision said to be about sending a message to Beijing and Russia about Britain’s own military strength.

Speaking from Australia, Mr Morrison said the world was “becoming more complex, particularly in our region, the Indo-Pacific”, and said the future of the geopolitical area “will impact all our futures”.

Downing Street hailed the agreement as a “landmark defence and security partnership” and said it would “protect and defend our shared interests in the Indo-Pacific”.

In a live broadcast from Number 10, the prime minister said he was “delighted” to join the partnership which would make the world safer.

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