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17 May, 2023 10:41

Biden ditches trip abroad to tackle woes at home

The US president had to call off his trip to Australia for a major security summit because of debt-ceiling negotiations in DC
Biden ditches trip abroad to tackle woes at home

A summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) slated for May 24 in Australia’s capital Sydney will not take place, the country’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Wednesday. The White House stated that President Joe Biden would not be traveling to Australia because of the need to address political gridlock at home over his country’s creaking debt ceiling.

Biden’s planned visit to the south-western Pacific, which was to also incorporate a historic stop in Papua New Guinea, had long been anticipated and would have included an address to the Australian parliament.

Speaking to ABC Radio Sydney on Wednesday, Albanese said that his “phone started going at about 4.30am our time,” with the US president notifying him of the latest change in plans.

The premier confirmed that the “QUAD leaders’ meeting will not be going ahead in Sydney next week.

Leaders of the US, Australia, Japan and India, which make up the QUAD, are hoping to hold discussions next week, on the sidelines of the G7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, Albanese added. He went on to say that he would hold a separate, bilateral meeting with President Biden there.

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made the announcement that the US president had canceled his trip to Australia and would instead be “back for meetings with Congressional leaders to ensure that Congress takes action by the deadline to avert default.

She also revealed that Biden has extended an invitation to the Australian premier to visit the US at an unspecified point in the future.

According to the US Treasury Department, the country could face its first-ever default as early as June 1 if Congress fails to lift the debt ceiling.

Biden has been battling for months with the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to resolve the issue, to no avail.

The first iteration of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue saw the light of day back in 2007, only to be disbanded a year later. In 2017 it was revived by leaders of the four countries with then-US President Donald Trump making no secret of the fact that one of the group’s prime objectives is to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Last February Beijing’s Permanent Representative at the UN, Zhang Jun, accused the US of “ganging up in the Asia Pacific region, creating trilateral and quadrilateral small cliques, bent on provoking confrontation.