September 24, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden mentioned there’s “work to do” on the worldwide stage as he headed to Japan on Wednesday to seek the advice of with allies on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s assertiveness within the Pacific on the identical time {that a} debt restrict standoff looms at residence.

With high-stakes talks to move off a federal default underway in Washington, Biden pledged to stay in “fixed contact” with negotiators within the capital metropolis whereas he conducts worldwide diplomacy.

The president departed Washington aboard Air Drive One a day after scrapping plans for a historic cease in Papua New Guinea and a key go to to Australia amid the showdown with Home Republicans over elevating the federal debt restrict. The three-nation journey had been meant as a triumphant international management showcase, and as a substitute threatened to develop into a truncated reminder of how partisan disagreements have undercut U.S. standing on the worldwide stage.

“I’ve lower my journey brief with a purpose to be right here for the ultimate negotiations and signal the cope with the bulk chief,” Biden mentioned in remarks earlier than departing the White Home. “I’ve made clear America is just not a deadbeat nation, we pay our payments.”

For Biden, the intertwined dynamics of the debt standoff and his foray overseas put a highlight on two key elements of his presidency — his efforts to claim U.S. prowess on the worldwide stage and to deal with financial issues at residence. In addition they are taking part in out as Biden is within the early weeks of his candidacy for reelection, including political overtones to the scenario.

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Aboard Air Drive One en path to Japan, White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned Republican Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy put Biden within the unhealthy place of canceling a part of the journey.

“He takes the American economic system hostage,” she mentioned.

The president was nonetheless set to attend the annual Group of Seven summit of superior democracies in Hiroshima, the place sustaining assist for Ukraine’s anticipated counteroffensive in opposition to Russia is about to take heart stage, alongside financial, local weather and international improvement points. Greater than a yr after Moscow’s invasion, Biden and allies have armed Kyiv with ever-more-advanced weaponry and maintained deep sanctions on Russia’s economic system, although sustaining resolve has grown tougher in Washington and different international capitals.

Whereas in Hiroshima, Biden additionally plans to sit down down with the so-called Quad leaders of Japan, Australia and India, a partnership meant to function a counterweight to China within the Indo-Pacific, a area that he payments as a prime precedence in U.S. nationwide safety technique. That assembly had initially been scheduled to happen subsequent week on what would have been his inaugural go to to Canberra and Sydney as president.

Off the agenda totally is a cease in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, the place Pacific Island leaders have been to assemble for a first-of-its-kind assembly with a U.S. president. It was meant to be a rejoinder to China’s rising army and financial pressures within the area. The U.S. has just lately opened embassies within the Solomon Islands and Tonga and has expressed a need to reverse a decades-long pullback within the area.

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No U.S. president has ever visited the island nation, and excessive hopes for the go to have been dashed by Biden’s announcement that he wouldn’t make the cease.

When requested whether or not he thought his shortened journey was a win for China, he mentioned: “No.”

“As a result of we nonetheless work with allies,” he mentioned.

White Home Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan dismissed the concept that jettisoning the Australia journey would do any diplomatic injury or give China leverage, arguing Biden’s status as a powerful ally would assist soften the blow whereas acknowledging the frustration, notably in Papua New Guinea, the cancellation has prompted.

“The work that we have to do bilaterally with Australia and with the Pacific Islands is figure that may be performed at a later date, whereas the ultimate stretch of negotiations over the debt restrict or the finances can’t be performed at a later date,” Sullivan mentioned.

Throughout a roughly hour-long assembly within the Oval Workplace on Tuesday, Biden and McCarthy designated chief negotiators to attempt to draft an settlement to permit extra authorities borrowing at the side of GOP-demanded spending cuts. The Treasury Division has warned that motion is probably going wanted by June 1 to guarantee the U.S. can proceed to fulfill its monetary obligations.

U.S. officers have warned in more and more pressing tones {that a} default wouldn’t solely spark a deep recession, but additionally weaken its standing on the world stage.

“Nations like Russia and China that will love nothing greater than for us to default so they might level the finger and say, ‘You see, america is just not a steady, dependable companion,’” Nationwide Safety Council spokesman John Kirby mentioned Tuesday. “So, that may be a excessive precedence, appropriately, for the president.”

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For weeks, White Home officers have mentioned Biden might handle each the Capitol Hill negotiations and overseas commitments whereas on the journey. However in current days aides have fretted as McCarthy has repeatedly known as for Biden to scrap his journey, frightened that whereas overseas, the president would seem to the general public as disengaged from the swelling disaster.

The instability of the cancellation might have the other impact of the preliminary objective of Biden’s journey — reinforcing American commitments to the area, warned Charles Edel, a senior adviser and the Australia chair on the Middle for Strategic and Worldwide Research.

“It might underscore for companions that regardless of welcome U.S. give attention to the area and the give attention to allies and companions on the coronary heart of U.S. overseas coverage, home politics continues to be a constraint on U.S. engagement and maybe on budgetary commitments as effectively,” he mentioned final week. “And I believe that’s one thing that might be talked about extensively.”


Boak reported from Hiroshima, Japan.