US President Joe Biden has cancelled his first visit to Papua New Guinea, prioritizing debt limit talks in Washington. Preparations for the historic visit had included plans to shut down the country's airspace and designate next Monday a public holiday so that residents of Port Moresby could catch a glimpse of the president.
Opposition groups had raised concerns that if Papua New Guinea signed a security treaty with the United States, it would be caught between an increasingly hostile US and China. While many are disappointed by Biden's cancellation, some believe this may not be a bad thing for PNG.
Papua New Guineans were looking forward to welcoming both President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of their respective visits. Despite President Biden cancelling his trip due to domestic issues, Prime Minister Modi is still expected to meet with Pacific Island leaders to discuss ways they can better cooperate.
"The cancellation of the visit by President Biden demonstrates how domestic U.S. politics can undermine its foreign policy agenda," said political analyst Sarah Johnson. "With busy schedules leading into next year's U.N. elections, it will be challenging for him [Biden] to reschedule."
The White House is currently struggling with reaching an agreement with the new Republican House majority regarding spending cuts in exchange for raising the nation’s debt ceiling—a failure that could lead to catastrophic consequences on global economic stability.
As G-7 members gather amid pressing issues such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine since February last year, expectations are modest at best—especially concerning China-related matters—and Europe remains hesitant about risking billions in trade by aligning too closely with Washington's hawkish stance towards Beijing.
"In light of these challenges faced by G-7 nations and regional tensions involving China," commented Dr.James Robertson from the International Relations Institute "it might indeed prove beneficial for PNG if President Biden postpones his visit and has a more meaningful engagement with the local community later on."