'Your leadership has taken on a critical role': Joe Biden praises Jacinda Ardern

‘Your leadership has taken on a critical role’: Joe Biden praises Jacinda Ardern


President of the United States Joe Biden has lauded the leadership of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, saying he’d like to work with her as his government attempts to tackle gun violence and online extremism.

In a meeting at the Oval Office, the two leaders spoke about gun violence and extremism, climate change, relations in the Pacific region as well as the relationship between the two countries.

“Your leadership has taken on a critical role in this global stage – it really has – galvanising action on climate change; the global effort to curb violence, extremism, and online, like happened in Christchurch,” Biden told Ardern in the meeting.

“I want to work with you on that effort, and I want to talk to you about what those conversations were like, if you’re willing.”

Ardern replied by speaking about the depth of friendship between New Zealand and the United States, and offered guidance on issues like gun law reform.

“Can I bring the sincere condolences of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand for what you have experienced in Texas and in New York?” Ardern said.  “And it’s been devastating to see the impact on those communities.”

“Our experience, of course, in this regard, is our own. But if there’s anything that we can share that would be of any value, we are here to share it.”

The conversation about gun violence between the two leaders comes after a mass shooting in Ulvade, Texas last week where 19 children and 2 teachers were killed.

“I’ve been to more mass shooting aftermaths than any President in American history, unfortunately.  And it’s — it’s just — so much of it is preventable, and the devastation is amazing,” Biden told Ardern.

“I was down in Texas an people sat in a room — about 250 of them in a large room — with me for almost four hours.  Nobody left. I spoke to every single person in that room.  Every single person, they waited to the very end.  And the pain is palpable.” 

While in the US, Ardern has also given a commencement address at Harvard University and appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where she talked about her government’s response to the Christchurch mass shooting in 2019.

In a statement after Biden and Ardern’s meeting, a White House official said in a statement: “The two leaders discussed the many ways in which we work together already on a variety of regional and global issues, but also ways in which we can step up our cooperation, in particular, to support the Pacific Island states as they face tremendous challenges from a variety of fronts — including, obviously, recovering from COVID and the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic, as well as climate change and other challenges.”

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