Anthony Albanese‘s high-stakes Quad leaders summit has been cancelled on the back of a 4.30am call from US President Joe Biden revealing he’d be unable to attend.
The Australian PM initially hoped Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida would still attend, along with a delegate from the United States.
However, he has since confirmed it will not go ahead.
‘The Quad leaders meeting will not be going ahead in Sydney next week,’ the Prime Minister said in a press conference on Wednesday.
‘We’ll be having that discussion between Quad leaders in Japan. The Quad is an important body and we want to make sure that it occurs at leadership level and we’ll be having that discussion over the weekend.’
All four representatives of the Quad will be in Japan on the weekend for the G7 Summit. While Australia is not part of the official G7 meeting, he has been invited as a ‘friend of Japan’.
It was reported earlier that both Kishida and Modi were ‘reconsidering their travel plans’ on the back of Mr Biden’s revelation he could no longer attend.
Mr Biden is in the middle of crucial debt ceiling talks with congressional leaders and cannot miss the final stages of negotiations to raise the US’s $31.4 trillion borrowing limit.
Mr Biden called Mr Albanese first at 4.30am on Wednesday to confirm he’d have to pull out of the Quad leaders summit due to be held in Sydney on May 24.
The debt ceiling matter must be resolved by June 1 or the US will default on its debt for the first time in its history – and the week of the Quad summit is the last opportunity to reach a resolution.
The high-stakes diplomatic meeting could be on the verge of collapse amid reports both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida are reconsidering their travel plans on the back of President Biden’s decision
But literally hours before the president pulled out of the visit, Mr Albanese said he was ‘honoured’ to host the leader’s summit, which he described as the ‘most important international event to be held in Australia since the G20 in Brisbane in 2014.
‘I look forward to welcoming President Biden to Australia,’ Mr Albanese told The Australian.
‘I am please that President Biden has been able to take up my invitation to address parliament.’
President Biden’s scheduled address to a joint sitting of Parliament on May 23 was the first since President Obama’s nine years ago.
Mr Albanese initially said discussions would take place with both PMs from India and Japan, Modi and Kishidi, in the next 24 hours regarding the next steps for the summit.
He was hopeful both would still attend, and that the US would send a senior representative, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in the place of President Biden.
Despite his disappointment, Mr Albanese told ABC Sydney Breakfast that ‘President Biden emphasised the importance of the Quad’ and is ‘very disappointed at some of the actions of some members of Congress and the US Senate’ which have made it impossible for him to attend.
Mr Biden is in the middle of crucial debt ceiling talks with congressional leaders and cannot miss the final stages of negotiations to raise the US’s $31.4 trillion borrowing limit
One hint that President Biden’s trip was on the rocks came when National Security Spokesman John Kirby publicly described the agenda for his trip to Japan – which he said would include meetings with each of the Quad nations — all of whom will also be in Japan
‘And obviously the domestic priority for the President, understandably, is to play a role in resolving those issues,’ he said.
‘One thing I’m absolutely certain of is that the President certainly wishes that this wasn’t happening.’
Mr Albanese was confident Prime Minister Modi would not want to cancel or postpone his trip, both for the Quad itself but also for his own events that he has separately organised with the growing Indian diaspora in Australia.
Modi had scheduled an event at Qudos Bank Arena for next week, and some 21,000 guests had registered to attend.
The status of that event remains up in the air, but Mr Albanese said PM Modi would ‘still be welcome’ next week.
‘Prime Minister Modi had, as well, a bilateral meeting scheduled for Sydney as well,’ he said.
‘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.’
One hint that President Biden’s trip was on the rocks came when National Security Spokesman John Kirby publicly described the agenda for his trip to Japan – which he said would include meetings with each of the Quad nations — all of whom will also be in Japan.
‘The President and I agreed that we would work to reschedule his visit to Australia at the earliest opportunity,’ Mr Albanese said in a statement.
Anthony Albanese was blindsided by a 4.30am call from US President Joe Biden which could derail his entire Quad leader’s summit, which was to be held at the Sydney Opera House next week
Mr Albanese was confident Prime Minister Modi would not want to cancel or postpone his trip, both for the Quad itself but also for his own events that he has separately organised with the growing Indian diaspora in Australia
But, there had been whispers as early as last week that President Biden could withdraw from the event. President Biden himself said on May 10: ‘If somehow we got down to the wire and we still hadn’t resolved this, and the due date was… when I was supposed to be away, I would not go. I would stay until this gets finished.’
The US leader also extended an invitation to Mr Albanese to visit the United States. Further details of when that visit will take place will be announced at a later date.
A White House spokesperson said: ‘Revitalizing and reinvigorating our alliances and advancing partnerships like the Quad remains a key priority for the President.
‘This is vital to our ability to advance our foreign policy goals and better promote global stability and prosperity.
‘We look forward to finding other ways to engage with Australia, the Quad, Papua New Guinea and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum in the coming year.’
The decision not to visit Papua New Guinea next week also comes as a significant blow, given Biden would have been the first sitting US President to tour the nation in an official capacity.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk