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Biden meets Indo-Pacific leaders at G7 summit while facing standoff over US debt limit


HIROSHIMA, Japan — President Joe Biden was seeking to rally regional cooperation against China on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit on Saturday, while facing an impasse in Washington over how to ensure the United States avoids default.

Hoping to avoid an outcome that would rattle the global economy and prove a boon for Beijing, Biden kicked off his third day in Japan at the annual meeting of the world’s most powerful democracies with a staff briefing on the latest jolts in the showdown over how to raise the federal debt ceiling.

On Saturday, the president was also taking part in meetings aimed at challenging China’s construction in the Indo-Pacific, including with the so-called Quad Partnership made up of the United States, Australia, Japan and India. .

Quad members were originally scheduled to meet in Sydney next week, but postponed their meeting on the sidelines of the G-7 to allow Biden to make an early return to Washington on Sunday in hopes of finalizing a deal to raise the cap. debt before. the United States is running out of money to pay its bills.

The shortened trip reinforced a fundamental tension shaping Biden’s presidency: As he tried to signal to the world that the United States was reclaiming the mantle of global leadership, at key moments domestic dramas continue to get in the way.

The president remained largely aloof from the public at the summit, foregoing grand public statements and leaving Friday’s chef’s dinner early. Instead, he spent time in front of a video monitor in a room next to his hotel suite, where aides in Washington kept him updated on the back and forth of the debt limit talks.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan acknowledged that world leaders pressured Biden over the debt limit standoff in Washington. But press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said while there was keen interest in how the president would resolve a domestic standoff that has geopolitical ramifications, there was no panic – at least not. Again.

“It’s not a hair on fire type situation,” she said.

Also on the sidelines of the summit, Biden was scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese instead of what had been a planned visit to his country later this week for the Quad summit. US officials said the trip would be postponed until a later date, and Biden invited Albanese to Washington for a state visit as a consolation for the change.

The president also sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take his place at a summit of Pacific island nations in Papua New Guinea on Monday. This presidential stop was also removed in order to get Biden back to Washington more quickly.

Biden’s visit would have been the first by a US president to the country. Pacific island nations are being aggressively courted by the United States and China as the two superpowers vie for influence in parts of the world where shipping lanes are vital.

In Hiroshima, Biden and other world leaders were expected to agree on a common framework for improving their own economic resilience — a recognition that high levels of trade with China have become more of a risk than an opportunity for mature economies.

Sullivan said the G7 leaders would recognize that “we seek to cooperate with China on issues of mutual interest. And also that we will work to address our significant concerns that we have with China in a range of areas. He repeated a phrase often used by G7 leaders that the group seeks to “reduce risk, not decouple from China.”

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.