Australia says Quad meeting could still proceed without Biden

  • World
  • Wednesday, 17 May 2023

FILE PHOTO: Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese looks on as he speaks to the media at Downing Street in London, Britain May 5, 2023. REUTERS/Maja Smiejkowska

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Wednesday a Quad summit could still go ahead as scheduled in Sydney next week without U.S. President Joe Biden, who postponed his trip to Australia due to debt ceiling negotiations in Washington.

Albanese said his government was in talks with the prime ministers of Japan and India after Biden canceled his attendance at the summit and the second leg of his upcoming Asia trip, which was also to have included a visit to Papua New Guinea.

"The President apologised that he would now have to postpone this visit," Albanese said in a statement. The leaders had agreed to work to reschedule Biden's visit to Australia "at the earliest opportunity", he added.

The Quad is an informal group that promotes an open Indo-Pacific. Beijing sees it as an attempt to push back against its growing influence in the region.

Albanese said he hoped the Quad summit could go ahead as planned on May 24 with the United States sending a "senior representative" to attend.

The Australian government was in discussions with India and Japan about how to proceed and "once those discussions are concluded, we will make a further announcement," Albanese said.

It was also possible they would meet together with Biden on the sidelines of the G-7 summit in Japan this week, he said.

"We'll ... hopefully be able to find a time when the four of us can sit down," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Albanese said he was certain Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would travel to Australia next week as planned for a bilateral meeting and an event on Tuesday with the Indian diaspora in Sydney.

India and Australia are not part of the G7 group of seven rich nations - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States - but have been invited to attend the summit in Japan.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates)

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