Joe Biden has decided to cut short his trip to Asia and Australia to address the impending US debt crisis.
The 80-year old has cancelled his stops in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and will return to US after the G7 Summit in Japan.
On Sunday, he will fly back to the US after attending the three-day Summit that begins on Friday.
Sources familiar with the trip planning of the president told Sky’s US-based partner network NBC that President Biden had decided to return home to the United States immediately after the G7 summit to ensure Congress took action before the deadline in order to avoid default.
The president had been scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea for a short, historic stop, and then travel to Australia to attend a meeting between the “quad” nations – Japan Australia India, the US.
The Papua New Guinea visit would have been the very first time a US president in office visited the island nation of over nine million people.
The cancellation represents a setback in foreign policy for an administration which has placed a stronger focus on the Pacific Region as part of its global outreach.
The US Treasury estimates that the country could be in a crippling default as soon as 1 June, if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling.
The US debt ceiling talks between Mr Biden, Kevin McCarthy and other top Republican members of Congress ended Tuesday in less than an hour.
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McCarthy told reporters that a deal could be reached by the end the week.
John Kirby, White House spokesperson for national security, said earlier on Tuesday that the Australia stop is being reevaluated.
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“We are working on, and thinking about, the rest of the journey right now,” said Mr Kirby, pointing out that Mr Biden will meet India’s Narendra Modi, as well as Australia’s Anthony Albanese, at the G7 summit in Hiroshima.
Mr Kirby said to reporters that, if Biden’s trip is “truncated, changed or modified” in any way, it would be a sign of the president placing his priorities in order.