Biden to cut back Asia tour due to US debt crisis

US President Joe Biden will take part in a G7 summit in Japan, but further stops in Papua New Guinea and Australia have been srapped due to debt crisis.

US President Joe Biden canceled his upcoming major Asia tour and will return to Washington early for talks to avert a potentially catastrophic debt default, the White House said on Tuesday.

Biden is flying to Japan on Wednesday for a G7 summit, but further stops in Papua New Guinea and Australia have been canceled to ease domestic tensions over raising US borrowing limits.

“President Biden will return to the United States on Sunday, following the completion of the G7 summit, 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.

“The President and his team will continue to work with Congressional leadership to deliver a budget agreement that can reach the President’s desk,” it added.

Quad leaders meeting canceled
After the G7 summit in Japan, Biden was due to attend a Quad leaders’ meeting in Sydney on May 24, bringing together the United States, Australia, Japan and India.

The White House said that Biden had called Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to inform him the visit was canceled, and had invited him for state visit to Washington at an undecided date.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday his government was in talks with the prime ministers of Japan and India after Biden postponed his trip to Australia.

“The President and I agreed that we would work to reschedule his visit to Australia at the earliest opportunity,” Albanese said in a statement.

The US president was also scheduled to visit Papua New Guinea on a “historic” first trip for a sitting US president, as Washington vies with Beijing for influence in the region.

Democrats and Republicans discuss debt ceiling
Democratic President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy edged closer toward a deal to avoid a looming US debt default.

After an hour of talks, McCarthy, the speaker of the House of Representatives, told reporters the two sides remained far apart on an agreement to lift the debt ceiling. But he said, “It is possible to get a deal by the end of the week. It’s not that difficult to get to an agreement.”

Democrats were not as positive about a quick time frame, but the White House called the meetings “productive and direct.” Republicans insist Biden agree to significant spending cuts in exchange for their support to raise the debt ceiling.

The United States could begin defaulting on its debts “potentially as early as June 1,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Monday, while the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has forecast June 15.

dh/fb (AFP, Reuters)


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