President Joe Biden welcomed the newly sworn-in Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday, promising to forgive him if he fell asleep during their diplomatic meeting in Tokyo.
“If you fall asleep while you’re here, it’s okay,” Biden said, prompting laughter in the room.
“Because I don’t know how you’re doing it,” Biden continued, noting the prime minister had just taken his oath of office before getting on a plane to the summit.
“But it is really quite extraordinary,” Biden continued. “Just getting off the campaign trail as well.”
Biden, who was nicknamed “Sleepy Joe” by former President Donald Trump, has a history of struggling to stay awake during political and diplomatic summits. In November, Biden appeared to fall asleep while listening to speeches at a global warming summit in Scotland.
Biden’s summit with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia was part of his effort to strengthen ties to democracies in Asia by creating a “Quad” alliance.
Albanese reassured Biden that he would remain committed to the newly formed alliance.
“We have had a change of government in Australia, but Australia’s commitment to the Quad has not changed and will not change,” he said.