HIROSHIMA: The White House said Thursday US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will go to Papua New Guinea in place of President Joe Biden, who scrapped a planned visit next week due to the US debt crisis, reports AFP.
Biden called Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape from Air Force One, while on his way to the G7 summit in Japan, to explain that he had to rush home on Sunday to rejoin negotiations with Republican opponents on avoiding a default. The president emphasized continued US commitment to the renewed partnership with the Pacific Islands and conveyed that Secretary Blinken would represent him at the US-Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby, the White House said in a statement.
Biden’s trip, planned for Monday, would have been the first by a sitting US president to the Pacific island nation. The Biden administration is pushing hard to reinvigorate its leadership across the Pacific in the face of a rising China.
Biden also axed a planned meeting in Australia with the other leaders of the Quad regional grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States.
President Biden also invited the prime minister and other Pacific leaders to Washington, DC, later this year for the second US summit with the Pacific Islands Forum, the White House said.