Biden says he is postponing Australia portion of the trip
US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he will postpone the Australia-leg of his trip, along with that of Papua New Guinea, given the uncertainty and intense negotiations with the opposition Republican party to ensure that America does not default on its debt for the first time in history.Bidens announcement at the top of his remarks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebrations at the White House came soon after his meetings with the Congressional leadership, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of the Republican Party.
- United States
US President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he will postpone the Australia-leg of his trip, along with that of Papua New Guinea, given the uncertainty and intense negotiations with the opposition Republican party to ensure that America does not default on its debt for the first time in history.
Biden's announcement at the top of his remarks at the Jewish American Heritage Month celebrations at the White House came soon after his meetings with the Congressional leadership, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of the Republican Party. In Australia, Biden was scheduled to participate in the third Quad summit with prime ministers Narendra Modi of India, Fumio Kishida of Japan and Anthony Albanese of Australia.
During a phone call with Albanese to inform him of his decision, Biden invited the prime minister for an official state visit at a mutually convenient time. Biden is hosting Modi at the White House on an official state visit on June 22. The two leaders were scheduled to meet in Australia on the sidelines of the Quad summit.
However, their planned meeting in Japan on the sidelines of the G-7 later this week would be in accordance with the schedule, the White House said.
''The nature of the presidency is addressing many of the critical matters all at once, so I am confident we are going to continue to make progress toward avoiding default and fulfilling America's responsibility as a leader on the world stage,'' Biden explained to a gathering of Jewish Americans on the occasion of celebrating Jewish American Heritage Month in the East Room of the White House.
This was soon after his meetings with the Republican leaders and his own Democratic party leaders from the Congress. Even though the leaders agreed that defaulting on debt is not an option, there were sharp differences on the path forward, necessitating intense negotiations between the two parties. Biden's absence from the country at this critical moment would have made it difficult for his administration, as a result of which the president decided to cut short his trip and return home directly from Japan.
''I am cutting my trip short. I am postponing the Australia portion of the trip and my stop in Papua New Guinea in order to be back for the final negotiations with Congressional leaders,'' Biden told his White House guests.
''I spoke today with Prime Minister Albanese of Australia a short time ago and let him know what was going on. There was an overwhelming consensus, I think, in today's meeting of the Congressional leaders that defaulting on the debt is simply not an option. Our economy would fall into recession,'' the president said.
''It would devastate retirement accounts, increase borrowing costs and according to Moody's, nearly eight million (80 lakh) Americans would lose their jobs, and our international reputation would be damaged in the extreme if we were to let that happen. It is disappointing that our discussions with the congressional Republicans have not been willing to discuss raising revenues,'' he said.
''But the policy differences between the parties should not stop Congress from avoiding default. I made clear again in today's meeting that default is not an option. America pays its debts, pays its bills, and there will be plenty of time to debate the policy differences. But the country never defaulted on our debt and we never will,'' Biden said.
Meanwhile, the White House reiterated that Quad remains a priority. ''Revitalizing and reinvigorating our alliances and advancing partnerships like the Quad remains a key priority for the president. This is vital to our ability to advance our foreign policy goals and better promote global stability and prosperity. We look forward to finding other ways to engage with Australia, the Quad, Papua New Guinea and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum in the coming year,'' White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Daniel Russel, vice president, International Security and Diplomacy at the prestigious Asia Society think-tank, said there is no question but that this is a disappointment to the leaders of the Pacific Islands and the Quad, particularly Australia and PNG.
''It will be seen in the region as a self-inflicted wound caused by political polarisation in Washington that does not reflect well on America's reliability as a partner,'' he said.
''However, the demand signal for US engagement and support from the countries of the Indo-Pacific is not going away. Neither is the determination of the Biden administration to bolster democratic values, prosperity and security in the region,'' he said.
Russel said he expects the Biden team to redouble its engagement through the Quad and in other bilateral and multilateral formats in the region once the standoff with the House Republicans over the debt ceiling is resolved.
''Biden's absence does not change the fact that the four Quad countries have done a significant amount of work since their last meeting and this progress will be announced as soon as a decision is made about a postponement or a substitute for the US president,'' he asserted.
''The back-to-back G7 and Quad summits substantially overlap in both participants and substance, although the G7 Hiroshima meeting will focus more heavily on Russia-Ukraine, while the Quad discussion in Sydney will centre largely around China. Indian Prime Minister Modi's participation as a guest at the G7 summit meetings gives momentum to the talks in Sydney a few days later,'' Russel said.
''Beyond the big geopolitical issues of Russia and China, both the G7 and Quad meetings seek to address priority concerns in the Global South. The agendas of both meetings will include development-related issues such as food security, public health, debt distress, resilience in the face of extreme weather and expansion of public-private partnerships. Leaders in both sessions will also explore ways to assist developing countries in digitalisation -- expanding access to emerging technologies and building capacity in the digital economy,'' he said.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)