Washington, DC: After his first ever in-person bilateral with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, US President Joe Biden has said there is no substitute for face-to-face discussions and he greatly appreciates the chance to spend time and exchange ideas with the Japanese leader in person.
Biden made the comments on Friday in the Rose Garden of the White House at a joint press conference with Suga, 72.
This is President Biden’s first in-person meeting with a foreign leader. The White House says it reflects the importance of the bilateral relationship and the friendship with the Japanese people.
There’s no substitute for face-to-face discussions, Biden, 78, the oldest American president, said.
It’s been my pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Suga to the White House. This is our first in-person meeting here — the first head of state that I’ve asked in my administration to come to the White House, he said.
Describing the value of in-person meeting, Biden said that they have already met several times virtually at a G7 meeting and a Quad Leader Summit, but “I greatly appreciate the chance to spend time with you in person and to exchange our ideas face to face.
We are still taking COVID precautions, being careful. But our commitment to meet in person is indicative of the importance and the value we both place on this relationship between Japan and the United States — this partnership, Biden said.
Later in a tweet from the official presidential handle, Biden said he was honoured to welcome Prime Minister Suga to the White House today as they usher in a new era of friendship between the US and Japan.
Both Pacific nations, we are also united by our shared commitment to the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights, he said.
In a luncheon picture released along with the tweet, the two leaders were seen wearing masks and seated across the table. Both the leaders have received the COVD-19 vaccine. Prime Minister Suga received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine on March 16 and April 6 respectively in Tokyo.
Suga became Japan’ 99th Prime Minister on September 16 last year succeeding Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving prime minister in the country.
Interestingly, President Barack Obama also hosted the then Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso at the White House on February 24, 2009 as his first meeting with a foreign leader.
Suga had a congratulatory phone call with President-elect Biden on November 11. He had a phone call with Biden on January 27. Both leaders participated in G7 Leaders’ video conference on February 19. They also participated in the first-ever Quad leaders summit via video conference along with Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 12.