Biden invites Papua New Guinea leader to D.C. after canceling Pacific island visit

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday invited Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape to Washington later this year for a summit with Pacific island nations after he canceled a scheduled visit to the country because of the debt limit stalemate in Congress, according to the White House.

As he traveled to Japan for a meeting of leading industrial nations, Biden called Marape from Air Force One and invited him to the second U.S. summit with the Pacific Islands Forum, during which leaders will discuss U.S.-Pacific issues such as the climate crisis, trade and economic ties, the White House said.

During the call, Biden also told Marape that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will instead represent him in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, and reiterated the United States’ commitment to its partnership with nations in the region.

NBC News reported earlier this week that Biden will not visit Papua New Guinea — cutting his foreign trip short to return to D.C. to negotiate the debt ceiling and canceling what would have been the first visit to the Pacific island nation by a sitting U.S. president.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday that Biden will still meet with Pacific island leaders later this year.

“Within this calendar year, you will see the president convening the leaders of the Pacific islands for a major summit, which will be the second time in 12 months he has done that,” he said aboard Air Force One.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said that Biden had a “terrific” call with Marape and suggested that the president may plan a trip to Papua New Guinea after the debt ceiling is resolved.

“We’ll get the Pacific island leaders back to the White House, and we’ll talk about maybe getting him back to Papua New Guinea, but you can’t reschedule the debt ceiling looming deadline. That is a hard date,” he told NBC News.

Biden hosted his first Pacific island country summit last September.

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