Biden cancels Papua New Guinea visit dashes hopes for historic Pacific visit

Wellington – Papua New Guinea has declared next Monday a public holiday in anticipation of the historic visit of US President Joe Biden and other leaders of the region.

Police stepped up security, signs were put up, and people were preparing to sing and dance in the streets. Expectations were high that it would be the first visit to a Pacific island country by a sitting US president.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said on Facebook: “I am very honored that he has fulfilled his promise to me to visit our country.”

Those hopes were dashed Wednesday when Mr. Biden won. canceled the visit This is to focus on the domestic debt limit talks.

Certainly, many festivals will continue to be held in the future. Mr. Biden’s planned three-hour stop, sandwiched between a meeting of seven major wealthy democracies in Japan and a now-cancelled visit to Australia, was scheduled for next. was as Coinciding with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visitHe will continue to meet with Pacific island leaders to discuss ways to better cooperate. But now Biden intends to return home immediately after the war. G-7 meetingMany people in Papua New Guinea feel depressed.

Steven Laneva, a lawyer in the capital Port Moresby, said Mr Biden’s planned visit had made huge headlines across the Pacific and he planned to watch the motorcade from the street.

“Everybody was excited, but now it’s canceled and I’m really depressed,” he said.

Conio Anu, who runs a lodge in the capital, said he was saddened by the news and wondered if people would still be able to take a day off on Monday. She said she was waiting to see if one of the international guests who booked on Monday would cancel.

Several other leaders had similar doubts. New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins debated most of the day before announcing he would continue his visit to Papua New Guinea.

Anna Pauls, a senior lecturer in international security at New Zealand’s Massey University, said Pacific leaders will understand that they need Biden at home, but the cancellation is the US’s domestic agenda. It shows how politics can undermine a country’s foreign policy agenda, he said.

“Unfortunately, this speaks to a pattern of behavior that sees the United States as a less trustworthy partner for many in the region,” Pauls said.

He said the meeting was designed as a follow-up to a summit with Pacific leaders in Washington last year, and that China’s growing influence in the Pacific region will bring the United States and the Pacific region closer together. He said that it was an indication of the deepening of their relationship. region.

The United States recently opened embassies in the Solomon Islands and Tonga and plans to open more embassies in the region to reassert its presence in the Pacific.

Pauls said the busy schedule leading up to next year’s U.S. presidential election would make it difficult for Biden to reschedule.

With about 10 million people, Papua New Guinea is the largest island nation in the Pacific Ocean by population. It lies just north of Australia and east of New Guinea, her second largest island in the world. The western side of the island is part of Indonesia. Papua New Guinea is relatively poor and many people live subsistence lives.

In a speech in Australia in 2016 when he was vice-president, Mr Biden spoke of his Pacific ties, saying that two of his uncles had fought in Papua New Guinea during World War II. He said one was killed and the other returned home with serious injuries.

But after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Papua New Guinea for the APEC summit in 2018, China ended up sending a top-level delegation first.

Raneva said China’s growing influence is being seen across the country, whether it’s in providing services or building infrastructure. He said some welcomed China’s help, while others didn’t.

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