Biden talks to New Zealand's Ardern about guns following Texas massacre

Mr Biden also spoke about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework he launched last week while on a tour of Asia

Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

President Joe Biden and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday discussed gun laws and domestic extremism as the US leader looks to persuade Congress to take up legislation following a string of mass shootings including an attack last week on a primary school that killed 21 people.

Ms Ardern successfully won passage of gun control measures in New Zealand after a white supremacist gunman killed 51 Muslim worshippers at two Christchurch mosques in 2019.

Less than a month later, all but one of the country’s 120 legislators voted in favour of banning military-style semiautomatic weapons.

Such action would be all but impossible in today's US political climate, where Republicans in an evenly divided Senate would almost certainly shun any firearm reforms.

The meeting, the second between the two leaders, came at the end of Ms Ardern's week-long US tour. She is the first New Zealand prime minister to visit the White House since 2014.

“It’s good to see a not-so-old but a good friend here,” Mr Biden said as he welcomed Ms Ardern to the Oval Office.

The two leaders discussed mass shootings and countering radicalisation following the massacres in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas.

“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,” Ms Ardern said.

During the meeting, Mr Biden also spoke about the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework he launched last week while on a tour of Asia.

The framework, which includes New Zealand, is aimed at boosting regional Asia-Pacific economic and trade co-operation while countering China.

But the US president stressed that Washington is not looking to dictate the rules or put pressure on any regional countries.

“We are not coming to dictate or lay down the law,” he said.

Ms Ardern agreed to “work together” with the US and called for a long-term approach “to build the economic resilience of our region”.

While Washington favours a robust policy in countering China in the Indo-Pacific region, New Zealand has taken a more cautious and pragmatic approach.

Speaking to the BBC last month, Ms Ardern described China as “a very important trading partner for us, but it's also a mature relationship for us”.

She said there are “areas we can work together, we will — but there will always be areas in which we will not necessarily agree and when those areas arise, we are very forthright and clear on our position”.

At the White House, the New Zealand prime minister thanked Mr Biden for his leadership on Ukraine and “what is a threat to our values and, of course, the [country's] territorial sovereignty”.

Ukraine latest — in pictures

A senior US official said the meeting “was very warm, very direct, and there was a great understanding between the two of them”.

There were no specific deliverables announced after the meeting but there was agreement to work with social media companies on tackling algorithms reform and the nexus that feeds radicalisation.

During her tour of the US, Ms Ardern visited New York, met members of Congress, delivered a Harvard commencement address and held meetings with top technology executives from Twitter, Amazon and Microsoft.

She also held private meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Council Co-ordinator for Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell.

Ms Ardern will return to Wellington later on Tuesday.

Texas elementary school shooting — in pictures

Updated: May 31, 2022, 10:13 PM