Joe Biden Cancels Australian Visit Amid US Domestic Debt Deadlock – Due to the ongoing crisis in Washington regarding the US debt ceiling, President Joe Biden has decided to cancel his planned visit to Australia, which was the second part of his upcoming Asia trip. Instead, he will be attending a three-day summit of G7 leaders in Hiroshima, Japan, starting on Friday and will return to the US on Sunday.
Originally, Biden was supposed to have a short, significant visit to Papua New Guinea before heading to Australia to participate in a meeting of the Quad countries, comprising Japan, Australia, India, and the US. Biden cut his trip short “in order to be back for meetings with congressional leaders to ensure that Congress takes action by the deadline to avert default,” the White House said in a statement.
Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, said Biden had called him on Wednesday morning with the news. “The president apologised that he would now have to postpone this visit because of the unfolding difficulties he is facing in his negotiations with the US Congress over the US government debt ceiling,” he said.
“These negotiations are scheduled to enter their critical and concluding phase during the last week of May.” “Regrettably, this conflicts with the president’s visits to Sydney and Canberra – including the Quad summit scheduled for 24 May.” “They would reschedule his visit to Australia at the earliest opportunity, Albanese said.” “I also look forward to visiting Washington later this year for a state visit to the United States.”
The White House said the Quad remained a key priority for the president and that his administration looked “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”. “Australia was talking to the leaders of Japan and India about their travel plans”, he said. “In the meantime, I look forward to meeting with both prime ministers and the president at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima on 20-21 May.”
Earlier on Tuesday, John Kirby, the spokesperson for White House national security, informed reporters that the planned visit to Australia was under reassessment. Biden was scheduled to deliver a speech to the Australian parliament, becoming the first US president in almost a decade to address a joint session of MPs and senators in Canberra.
The speech was confirmed to take place on Tuesday, May 23, just a day before attending the Quad summit in Sydney. “These leaders, all leaders of democracies, they know that our ability to pay our debts is a key part of US credibility and leadership around the world,” Kirby said. “And so they understand that the president also has to focus on making sure that we don’t default.” The treasury department has estimated that the US will go into a crippling default as early as 1 June if Congress does not lift the debt ceiling.