Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday said next week’s Quad leaders meeting in Sydney will not go ahead after US President Joe Biden cancelled his visit to Australia, according to a media report.
Albanese said the leaders of Australia, the US, India and Japan would instead meet at the G7 Summt in Japan this weekend.
US President Biden announced on Tuesday that he will postpone the Australia leg of his Asia trip, along with that of Papua New Guinea, given the uncertainty and intense negotiations with the opposition Republican party to ensure that America does not default on its debt for the first time in history.
“The Quad leaders’ meeting will not be going ahead in Sydney next week,” Albanese said in Tweed Heads, a town in New South Wales.
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Albanese says it’s still possible that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Sydney next week, ABC News reported.
President Biden has been forced to turn his attention to domestic politics, as he works to hash out a deal with Republicans to prevent the US from defaulting on its debts at the end of this month.
“Because that has to be solved prior to June 1 — otherwise there are quite drastic consequences for the US economy, which will flow on to the global economy — he understandably has had to make that decision,” Albanese said.
Also read: The QUAD story. What is Quad, where did it come from?
The Prime Minister also said Biden was “disappointed” as he was unable to come to Australia and that the Quad leaders would instead try to gather on the margins of the G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima.
“All four leaders — President Biden, Prime Minister Kishida, Prime Minister Modi and myself — will be at the G7, held in Hiroshima on Saturday and Sunday. We are attempting to get together over that period of time [and] I’ll have a bilateral discussion with President Biden,” he said.
“At this stage, we haven’t got a time locked in for that arrangement.”
Albanese said it was still possible that Prime Minister Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida would visit Sydney next week, but officials in all three countries were still trying to confirm their plans.
“We are in discussions with the Quad leaders over today. We’ll make further announcements about that, but Prime Minister Modi would certainly be a very welcome guest here next week,” he said.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the region.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years.
Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.
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