The White House showed it had done its homework on Australia’s music-loving prime minister with a gift specifically tailored to Anthony Albanese’s amateur DJ skills.
US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill exchanged gifts with Anthony Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon in Washington on Wednesday as they met for a private dinner on Thursday ahead of a lavish state affair.
Mr Albanese received a custom-made signature record player from a family-run American audio manufacturer – an ideal gift for the well-known record lover to play some of his favorite tracks.
He also received an antique desk from 1886, while Mrs. Haydon received Dr. Biden received a green enamel and diamond necklace from an American jeweler.
In return, President Biden received a painting by Australian Indigenous artist Katherine Boland, created as part of a DFAT-funded project to support fire-affected communities in Australia and the United Kingdom.
US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill attend a private dinner with Anthony Albanese and Jodie Haydon
Dr. Biden received a silk scarf and a painting by an Indigenous artist depicting a group of women gathered Tyukurla in Western Australia with a selection of foraged bush foods.
The First Lady also received a silver leaf brooch by Melbourne designer Shimara Carlow.
However much they may like the offers, Mr Albanese and Ms Haydon will likely have to hand them over to the Prime Minister’s Department or pay the equivalent under Australia’s strict government rules.
On his Instagram feed, Mr. Albanese posted that “Nice to see you again, my friend @potus. Thank you for the warm welcome.’
Photos show Mr Albanese and Mr Biden laughing as the prime minister signed a guest book, then looking very happy in each other’s company over drinks at the White House.
The leaders seemed most comfortable in each other’s company as they shared a few laughs before eating
In another photo, the two couples sat engrossed at a small dining table.
The intimate meal contrasts with the sumptuous SDinner is planned for Thursday.
The long-awaited black tie dinner will be held in a temporary pavilion on the White House lawn.
State dinners are typically among the White House’s most extravagant diplomatic events – only three others have been held by President Biden: for the leaders of France, South Korea and India.
However, due to international and domestic crises, particularly the conflict between Israel and Hamas and the ongoing battle to elect a new Speaker of the House of Representatives, a significant reduction in voting will take place this week.
First lady Jill Biden previously announced that she had abandoned her plan to have the popular band B-52 perform at the state dinner due to the “sadness and pain” being felt around the world.
Instead, the band members will attend the event as guests. The President’s Marine Band and the Army and Air Force Strolling Strings will perform and provide instrumental music for the evening.
The dinner will be hosted by celebrity chef Katie Button and attended by U.S. and Australian-based artists, business leaders and community leaders.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden ask Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s partner, Jodie Haydon, to sit next to Mr. Albanese rather than Dr. Biden to stand
President Biden and Mr. Albanese appeared to be in good spirits during their time together in Washington
While the guest list for the state dinner has not yet been confirmed, there are rumors that actors Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie could make an appearance.
There is also speculation Australian Rugby League Commission chairman and NSW racing director Peter V’landys will attend.
The B52s – the band behind hits like Love Shack and Rock Lobster – are known for their left-wing politics and performed at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in the US.
The House speaker has also been invited to previous state dinners, but that position is now vacant and there is still no candidate who has been able to muster enough support to replace ousted Republican Kevin McCarthy.
When asked who she would invite to fill the position, Jill Biden replied: “I don’t know.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked at a media conference whether the celebration might seem “tone deaf” given the suffering in Israel and Gaza.
“We believe there is no more important time than now to hold this state visit with Australians and… demonstrate our strength, partnership and alliances,” she said.
“Having these conversations with one of our allies like Australia is incredibly important.”
“You will see two leaders come together and continue to talk about the partnership they want to continue to advance.”
Mr Albanese will meet with business leaders on Wednesday and attend the opening of Australia’s new embassy in Washington DC.
A meeting in the Oval Office and a joint press conference before the state dinner are also planned for Wednesday.
A copy of the menu will be enjoyed by Australian and US dignitaries at the state dinner on Wednesday evening
The main topic of the conversation between President Biden and Mr. Albanese in the Oval Office is likely to be China and its growing influence in the Indo-Pacific.
“There is no doubt in my mind that the challenges and opportunities in relationships with the [People’s Republic of China] is on the agenda tomorrow. “No question,” White House spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.
Radio presenter Ray Hadley criticized Mr Albanese for flying to the US rather than dealing with issues at home, particularly after so much time was spent on the ultimately fruitless and “divisive” Voice referendum.
“We have a crisis in the Middle East, we have a crisis related to people who cannot afford to feed themselves, to clothe themselves and to pay their mortgage,” Hadley said.
“We have the drama over the yes/no vote (referendum) … so what is he doing?” He gets on a plane to talk to Joe Biden. How will Joe help us?’
ALBO’S WHITE HOUSE STATE DINNER MENU REVEALED
Courtney Gould NCA Newswire
A century of friendship and shared values are at the heart of the decor and menu for Anthony Albanese’s lavish state dinner at the White House.
But despite previous reports, the White House will no longer be transformed into the Love Shack after plans for a performance by 1980s band The B-52s were scaled back.
The new wave band was scheduled to perform on the South Lawn, but First Lady Jill Biden announced they would only attend as guests.
“We are now living in a time when so many are facing grief and pain. “So we made a few adjustments to the entertainment portion of the evening,” she said.
President Joe Biden’s own Marine Band and the walking string players of the Army and Air Force will now provide “instrumental music” at dinner.
The White House will host Mr Albanese and his partner Jodie Haydon for an evening of pomp and ceremony, while the world leaders attend the black tie dinner.
An all-female team led by guest chef Katie Button will prepare a three-course meal for the Prime Minister and other dignitaries.
The menu includes a first course of farro and roasted beet salad with popped sorghum and herb vinaigrette; Butternut squash soup with smoked paprika, candied pumpkin seeds.
The main course is sarsaparilla-braised ribs; Sorghum-glazed baby carrots, Brussels sprouts, celery root puree, carrot jus.
And for dessert: hazelnut chocolate mousse cake, crème fraîche ice cream.
Chef Katie Button reveals what Albanese and Joe Biden will eat at the state dinner.
For dessert there is hazelnut chocolate mouse cake with crème fraîche ice cream
Mr. Albanese is treated to a wine list that includes Windracer Chardonnay “Alexander Mountain” 2019; Sequel Syrah Columbia Valley 2019; Argyle Extended Tirage Brut 2012.
Dr. Biden said Australia’s “vibrant” spring and “crisp American autumn” served as inspiration for the dinner.
“Nurturing our partnerships and relationships with our allies is critical,” especially during these turbulent times,” she said.
“Food is calming, calming and healing. And we hope this dinner offers a little of that too.”
Mr Albanese and Ms Haydon will dine with the US President and First Lady before the state dinner on Tuesday evening.
Ahead of the meeting, the Prime Minister said the friendship between Australia and the US was “so great that it extends even beyond the borders of our planet”.
“Like the stars above us, the Australia-US alliance was born in the darkness during the Second World War – but it has been lighting our way ever since,” he said at the opening of the new Australian embassy in Washington.
“Our friendship is true, and true friendship is based on honesty – that means we have the power and freedom to tell each other what needs to be said, even if there are times when the message isn’t as immediately endearing as it is an episode.” by Bluey.’
What is served:
– A first course farro and roasted beet salad with popped sorghum and herb vinaigrette; Butternut squash soup with smoked paprika, candied pumpkin seeds.
-The main course is sarsaparilla-braised ribs; Sorghum-glazed baby carrots, Brussels sprouts, celery root puree, carrot jus.
-And for dessert: hazelnut chocolate mousse cake, crème fraîche ice cream.