HIROSHIMA (AP) - President Joe Biden sought to rally regional support against China at the Group of Seven Summit on Saturday. Meanwhile, Washington was stuck in a deadlock over how to prevent the U.S. from defaulting.
Biden, hoping to avoid an outcome that could shake the global economy and be a boon for Beijing, began his third and final day in Japan during the annual meeting of world's largest democracies by receiving a staff briefing on the latest fumbles and stumbles in the showdown about how to increase the federal debt ceiling.
On Saturday, the president squeezed in meetings to challenge China's expansion across the Indo-Pacific region, including the so-called Quad Partnership made up of Australia, Japan, and India.
The Quad members were originally scheduled to meet next week in Sydney, but they rescheduled the meeting to the sidelines the G-7 in order for Biden to return early to Washington on Sunday to finalize a debt ceiling deal before the U.S. ran out of cash in order to pay its bills.
The short trip reinforced a fundamental tension that has shaped Biden's presidential tenure: While he tried to signal the world that America is reclaiming its mantle as global leader, at key times, domestic dramas kept getting in his way.
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The president has mostly remained out of sight at the summit. He has avoided making big public announcements and left Friday's dinner for leaders early. He has been watching a video screen in the room adjacent to his hotel suite where Washington aides have kept him informed of the debt limit negotiations.
Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, acknowledged that world leaders had been pressuring Biden over the debt ceiling standoff in Washington. Karine Jean Pierre, the press secretary for President Obama, said there is no panic yet. She added that there's a lot of interest in how he will resolve a domestic crisis that could have geopolitical implications.
She said, "It is not a situation where there are many hairs on fire."
Biden also held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Quad Summit with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, in place of a visit that was planned to Australia later this week to attend the Quad summit. The U.S. government announced that the trip was rescheduled for later in the week. Biden invited Albanese for a State visit to Washington as a consolation.
The President also sent Secretary of State Antony Blinken, to fill in for him at a Pacific Island Nations summit on Monday in Papua New Guinea. This presidential stop was also scrapped to allow Biden to return to Washington faster.
Biden's trip would have marked the first time an American president visited the country. The U.S., China and other superpowers are aggressively courting Pacific Island nations as they compete to gain influence in areas of the world that are dependent on shipping lanes.
Biden, along with other world leaders, were to meet in Hiroshima and agree on a framework to improve their own economic resilience. This was a recognition that the high level of trade with China has become a greater risk for mature economies than an opportunity.
Sullivan stated that the G7 would recognize that 'we are seeking to work with China in matters of mutual benefit. We will also work to address the significant concerns we have in various areas with China. He reiterated a phrase that is often used by G7 leader, namely the group's desire to "de-risk" China and not decouple.