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Australian papers pounce on Biden’s blunder as he forgets PM’s name at key moment

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Joe Biden Forgets Australian Prime Minister's Name

Australian newspapers were quick to pick up US President Joe Biden’s gaffe when he thanked their prime minister for joining a major new defence alliance, AUKUS, but appeared to suddenly forget his name at a crucial moment in the announcement and referred to him merely as “that fellow Down Under.”

In his televised announcement from the White House, Biden stood amid large video displays of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia's PM Scott Morrison, both of whom took part remotely.

"Thank you, Boris and... and I want to thank that fellow Down Under. Thank you very much, pal. Appreciate it, Mr Prime Minister," Biden said as he revealed the agreement to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

Biden recovered after this as he proceeded with his speech and correctly identified the Australian leader, who had earlier responded to the faux pas with a smile and a thumbs up.

Also read:  US, UK equipping Australia with nuclear submarines as AUKUS alliance is born to counter China

However, the Australian press was not as forgiving.

"'Thanks pal': Biden appears to forget Morrison's name," read a headline in the Cairns Post.

The defence deal "may not have got off to the shining start for which Morrison hoped, of course, when US President Joe Biden appeared to forget his name at the crucial moment", said an analysis by the Sydney Morning Herald.

The apparent gaffe opened a window into the "little-brother nature of Australia's position among the powers", the newspaper pointed out.

But an analysis by James Morrow at Sydney's Daily Telegraph said the awkward moment could not overshadow the importance of the deal, struck at a time of rising Chinese military influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Not even Joe Biden forgetting the name of 'that fellow Down Under' could mar the importance of what has just played out over the last 12 hours," Morrow wrote.