17 May 2023

Hipkins awaiting update on Biden replacement for PNG trip

2:59 pm on 17 May 2023
Chris Hipkins

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he is waiting to hear who will go to Papua New Guinea in US President Joe Biden's place before making a decision on whether he goes.

Hipkins had a week ago confirmed he had accepted an invitation from Biden to attend the PNG meeting.

The White House today confirmed Biden would no longer be travelling to PNG, and had also pulled out of a Canberra meeting of the Quad grouping - the US, India, Japan and Australia.

"We're just working through that information now," Hipkins told reporters at Parliament this afternoon.

"I haven't got an announcement or anything on that for you right now but we'll endeavour to confirm our plans based on the latest information, we're still waiting to hear who's going to go in his place so we haven't made final decisions.

"I acknowledge that he's got a lot on his plate at the moment as well."

He said people should not read too much into the President's cancellation in terms of the priority the US places on the Pacific.

"He has some relatively important domestic issue that he needs to take care of, and I think we can all understand that. I didn't attend the last Pacific gathering because of the cyclones here in New Zealand.

"Sometimes things happen which means you have to reprioritise your time."

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