Australia cancels Quad leaders’ summit in Sydney after Biden postpones trip; may meet on G7 margins in Japan
Melbourne: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday cancelled the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Sydney on May 24 after US President Joe Biden postponed his visit to Australia, and indicated the four leaders of the grouping, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will meet on the margins of the G7 meeting this weekend in Japan.
President Biden announced on Tuesday that he will postpone the Australia leg of his Asia trip, along with that of Papua New Guinea, given the uncertainty and intense negotiations with the opposition Republican party to ensure that America does not default on its debt for the first time in history.
“The Quad leaders’ meeting will not be going ahead in Sydney next week,” Prime Minister Albanese said in Tweed Heads, a town in New South Wales.
Albanese said the leaders of Australia, the US, India and Japan would now meet at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan this weekend.
“We, though, will be having that discussion between Quad leaders in Japan. I thank Prime Minister (Fumio) 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 the leadership level and we’ll be having that discussion over the weekend,” Albanese said.
President Biden has been forced to turn his attention to domestic politics, as he works to hash out a deal with Republicans to prevent the US from defaulting on its debts at the end of this month.
“Because that has to be solved prior to June 1 – 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,” Albanese said.
The Prime Minister also said Biden was “disappointed” as he was unable to come to Australia and that the Quad leaders would instead try to gather on the margins of the G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima.
“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 [and] I’ll have a bilateral discussion with President Biden,” he said.
“At this stage, we haven’t got a time locked in for that arrangement.”
Prime Minister Albanese said that his Indian counterpart would still travel next week to Australia despite the cancellation of the Quad leaders’ meeting and he is looking forward to welcoming him.
The Australian premier was responding to a question on whether Prime Minister Modi will still come to Sydney after Albanese cancelled the Quad leaders’ meeting in Sydney on May 24 as President Biden postponed his visit to Australia.
“Prime Minister Modi will be here next week for a bilateral meeting with myself,” Albanese told ABC Radio in Brisbane.
Prime Minister Modi will also have business meetings and will hold a very public event at Homebush at the Olympic site in Sydney, he said.
“He will also be engaging with Australian-India business relations …I look forward to welcoming him to Sydney,” Albanese said.
But he indicated Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida would cancel his visit in the wake of Biden’s announcement. “Prime Minister Kishida … was just coming for the Quad meeting. There wasn’t a separate bilateral programme,” Albanese said.
Albanese said he will attend the G20 meeting that will be held in New Delhi later this year.
In November 2017, India, Japan, the US and Australia gave shape to the long-pending proposal of setting up the “Quad” to develop a new strategy to keep the critical sea routes in the Indo-Pacific free of any influence amid China’s aggressive behaviour in the region.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. Beijing has also made substantial progress in militarising its man-made islands in the past few years.
Beijing claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. But Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counterclaims. In the East China Sea, China has territorial disputes with Japan.