US secretary of state to visit PNG after Biden cancels
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit Papua New Guinea after President Joe Biden cancelled his planned trip to the Pacific country, officials say.
Biden had put in a call to PNG Prime Minister James Marape from Air Force One while on his way to the G7 summit in Hiroshima to explain in person his decision to cancel the visit, the White House said in a statement.
"The president emphasised continued US commitment to the renewed partnership with the Pacific Islands and conveyed that Secretary Blinken would represent him at the US-Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Port Moresby," the statement said.
Biden had invited Marape and other Pacific leaders to Washington DC later this year for the second US summit with the Pacific Islands Forum, it added.
Biden arrived in Hiroshima on Thursday to participate in the G7 summit, which starts on Friday and ends on Sunday.
He would have then continued on to Australia, stopping off in PNG on Monday.
The looming deficit dispute with Congress led Biden to cancel the visits to return directly to the United States after the Hiroshima summit.
The US could cease to meet its financial commitments by the beginning of June if no agreement is reached on raising the debt ceiling.
There was disappointment in PNG at the decision, as Biden's visit would have been the first by a serving US president to the country.
The PNG government had declared a public holiday to mark the visit.
Biden's administration has intensified diplomatic and economic activity in the region to counter growing Chinese influence.
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on the flight to Hiroshima that Biden aimed to visit PNG and Australia at a later date.