Biden cancels planned visit to Australia, Papua New Guinea to focus on debt limit talks

President Joe Biden has decided to curtail an upcoming visit to the Indo-Pacific to focus on the debt limit standoff at home

Aamer Madhani
Tuesday 16 May 2023 21:07 BST
Biden (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

President Joe Biden is curtailing his upcoming trip to the Indo-Pacific, scrapping what was to be a historic stop in Papua New Guinea as well as a visit to a Australia for gathering with fellow leaders of the so-called Quad partnership so he can focus on debt limit talks in Washington, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The cancellation is a foreign policy setback for an administration that has made putting a greater focus on the Pacific region central to its global outreach.

Biden still plans to depart on Wednesday for Hiroshima, Japan, for a Group of Seven summit with leaders from some of the world's leading economies. He will return to the U.S. on Sunday, according to the people familiar matter who requested anonymity to discuss the yet to be formally announced decision.

Biden had been scheduled to travel on to Papua New Guinea to meet with Pacific Island leaders and then to Australia for a meeting of the leaders of the Quad partnership, made up of the U.S., Australia, India and Japan. The Papua New Guinea stop would have been the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to the island country of more than 9 million people.

The Quad partnership first formed during the response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed some 230,000 people. Since coming into office, Biden has tried to reinvigorate the Quad as part of his broader effort to put greater U.S. focus on the Pacific and counter increasing economic and military assertiveness by China in the region.

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