Biden cancels visits to Australia and Papua New Guinea to deal with US debt crisis

President Joe Biden will cut a trip to Asia and Australia short to deal with the impending debt crisis in the US.

The 80-year-old has cancelled stops in Australia and Papua New Guinea and will return to the US after the G7 summit in Japan.

He will attend the three-day summit that starts on Friday before flying back to the US on Sunday.

A source familiar with the president’s trip planning told Sky’s US partner network NBC: “President Biden has decided to return to the United States on Sunday, immediately following the completion of the G7, to ensure Congress takes action by the deadline to avert default.”

The president was scheduled to make a brief, historic stop in Papua New Guinea, then travel to Australia for a meeting of the so-called “quad” countries – Japan, Australia, India and the US.

The Papua New Guinea stop would have been the first visit by a sitting US president to the island country of more than nine million people.

The cancellation is a foreign policy setback for an administration that has made putting a greater focus on the Pacific region central to its global outreach.

But the US Treasury has estimated the country will go into a crippling default as early as 1 June if Congress does not lift the debt ceiling.

Mr Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy’s US debt ceiling negotiations ended on Tuesday after less than an hour.

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But Mr McCarthy said coming out of the meeting: “It is possible to get a deal by the end of the week.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said the Australia stop was being reevaluated.

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“We’re working through, thinking through the rest of the trip right now,” Mr Kirby said, noting Mr Biden would meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australia’s Anthony Albanese at the G7 in Hiroshima, Japan.

Mr Kirby told reporters that if Biden’s trip “gets truncated or changed or modified in any way,” it should be seen as the president putting his priorities in the proper order.