New Delhi/Canberra: Australia has cancelled the Quad Leaders’ summit, which was to be held in Sydney from May 22-24, due to the non-availability of US President Joe Biden due to domestic compulsions. The Quad leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima this weekend instead.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said that his bilateral with Prime Minister Modi in Sydney could continue as planned, while PM Modi also has an engagement with the Indian diaspora on May 23.
The Quad Leaders’ in-person summit was to see PM Modi, US President Joe Biden, Australian PM Anthony Albanese and Japanese PM Fumio Kishida meet in Sydney.
Instead the four leaders will be meeting in Hiroshima, where the G7 Summit is being held from May 19-21. Australia and India have been invited to the G7 Summit by Japan.
Australian PM Anthony Albanese said: “The Quad Leaders’ Meeting will not be going ahead in Sydney next week.”
In an interview, he said “I had a discussion with President Biden in the early hours of this morning. He expressed very much his disappointment at being unable to come to Sydney for the Quad Leaders’ Meeting and address the Parliament that had been scheduled for Canberra next week.
“The blocking and the disruption that’s occurring in domestic politics in the United States, with the debt ceiling issue, means that, because that has to be solved prior to 1 June – 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.
“President Biden, though, indicated that he was very much looking forward to coming down at a future date when it can be arranged and I will visit the United States for a state visit later this year. 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, as well as I’ll have a bilateral discussion with President Biden. At this stage, we haven’t got a time locked in for that arrangement. This is a decision that’s been made overnight our time in the United States.
“The Quad Leaders’ Meeting will not be going ahead in Sydney next week. We, though, will be having that discussion between Quad Leaders in Japan. I thank Prime Minister Kishida for his invitation for me to attend the G7 and it is appropriate that we talk. 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.”
Asked if Prime Minister Modi would still come to Sydney, he said: “Prime Minister Modi had a bilateral meeting scheduled for Sydney as well. 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.
“Prime Minister Kishida, of course, we had bilateral meetings last year, at the end of last year, just a few months ago in Perth that was very successful and the relationship with Japan is very important. And, of course, I received the warmest of welcomes by Prime Minister Modi in India in March.
“I’ll be attending the G20 meeting that will be held in New Delhi later this year as well. Obviously, the decision by President Biden that he has been forced to make because of the holding-up of those budget issues in the United States means that the rescheduling of other arrangements is being made and those discussions are taking place respectfully over the course of today.”
On Tuesday, the MEA announced Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming schedule. He is to visit Japan from May 19-21 for the G-7 Summit and Papua New Guinea on May 22, for the 3rd Summit of the Forum for India–Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC III Summit). A question mark hangs over the Australia leg of the trip, that was from May 22-24 for the Quad Leaders’ Summit.
The White House in a statement on the cancellation of President Biden’s visit said:
“President Biden will return to the United States on Sunday, following the completion of the G7 summit, in order to be back for meetings with Congressional leaders to ensure that Congress takes action by the deadline to avert default.
“The President spoke to Prime Minister Albanese earlier today to inform him that he will be postponing his trip to Australia. He also invited Prime Minister Albanese for an official state visit at a time to be agreed by the teams. The President’s team engaged with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea’s team to inform them as well.”
“…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.”
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