Biden to travel to Australia despite US debt ceiling crisis

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has confirmed US President Joe Biden will travel to Australia next week, brushing aside concerns high-stakes negotiations to lift America’s debt ceiling would cause Biden to cancel the trip.

In a major moment for the prime minister on the world stage, Albanese will host Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Sydney Opera House next Wednesday for the first Quad security dialogue leaders’ summit to be held in Australia.

Biden will address a joint sitting of parliament and hold a bilateral meeting with Albanese on Tuesday in the first visit by a US president to Australia since Barack Obama in 2014.

Albanese will also hold bilateral meetings with Kishida and Modi, as well as appearing alongside his Indian counterpart at a lavish community event at Sydney Olympic Park.

The government set aside $23 million for the one-day summit in last year’s budget, reflecting the significant logistical and security challenges involved.

Roads in Sydney’s central business district will be closed and buses diverted in the lead-up to the event and on the day of the summit, with drone operators restricted from flying their devices near the Opera House.

Joe Biden and Anthony Albanese meeting on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia last year.Credit: James Brickwood

Biden, who said last week he might not be able to leave Washington DC during the debt crisis, typically travels overseas with his presidential limousine, known as “the Beast”, and a motorcade of dozens of vehicles.

Before travelling to Australia, Biden is scheduled to attend the G7 summit in Japan this week and visit Papua New Guinea for a meeting with Pacific leaders.

“I am pleased that President Biden is able to take up my invitation to address parliament,” Albanese said in a statement.

“Our strong partnership with India will deliver economic benefits for Australia in trade, investment and business.

“No partner in the Indo-Pacific is closer than Japan. Our partnership is underpinned by our shared values, including a commitment to democracy, human rights, free trade and a rules-based order.

“I’m also looking forward to hosting the Quad leaders’ summit, which is the largest, most significant gathering in Australia since we hosted the G20 a decade ago.”

Previous Quad summits have produced plans for the four nations to work together on tracking illegal fishing vessels, creating a reliable supply chain for critical minerals and partnering on technologies to tackle climate change.

China has blasted the Quad as an “exclusive clique” aimed at constraining its rise to superpower status.

Modi will appear before thousands of members of the Indian-Australian community at Qudos Bank Arena in Homebush on Tuesday evening in his first visit to Australia in almost a decade.

Sanjay Deshwal, head of the Little India Harris Park Business Association, said he expected between 12,000 and 15,000 people to attend the gathering.

During Albanese’s March trip to India, Modi memorably accompanied him on a golden chariot ride before the start of a Test cricket match at Ahmedabad.

“It’s a highlight of my life being here today,” Albanese said before entering the stadium, which is believed to be the world’s biggest.

US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Tuesday that Republicans and Democrats were “nowhere near reaching a conclusion” in talks to prevent the US government from defaulting on its debts and that staff talks were “not productive at all”.

US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said the US government could run out of cash as soon as June 1, meaning tens of millions of Americans would receive delayed government payments.

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.

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