May 17, 2023, 12:23pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Why US presidents cancel foreign trips

Biden, Trump, and Reagan.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque; REUTERS/Russell Cheyne; Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum

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The News

U.S. President Joe Biden canceled a scheduled trip to Papua New Guinea and Australia on Tuesday to focus on the domestic debt ceiling crisis.

Biden, who would've been the first president to visit Papua New Guinea after his upcoming Asia tour, still plans to attend the G-7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan this weekend, returning to the U.S. on Sunday.

Here's why other U.S. presidents have canceled foreign trips or cut them short.

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Know More

Joe Biden

Last November, after the G-20 summit in Bali, Biden scrapped a trip to Thailand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' meeting, and flew back to Washington to attend his granddaughter's wedding at the White House, according to reports.

For this most recent trip, Biden was set to meet with Pacific Island leaders in Papua New Guinea before going to Sydney to gather with his counterparts in the "Quad" alliance, which includes the U.S., Australia, India, and Japan.

Donald Trump

Trump was scheduled to visit Denmark in 2019, but canceled after he said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen refused to discuss selling Greenland, a Danish autonomous territory.

And in 2017, Trump ended a lengthy international trip early to fly back to Washington, skipping the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Barack Obama

In 2013 Obama called off plans to visit Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Brunei and attend two summits because of the government shutdown and budget struggle.

Bill Clinton

Once again, APEC got the short end of the stick because of a domestic budget dispute. Clinton canceled his trip to the APEC summit in Japan in 1995 so he could work on resolving a budget impasse.

Ronald Reagan

Reagan scrapped his plans to visit the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand in 1983. The White House said the president had "particularly demanding" congressional business to attend to.

But behind the scenes, officials were concerned about the political instability of the Philippines under then-President Ferdinand Marcos, according to reports.

The New York Times reported that First Lady Nancy Reagan, was "understood to be fearful of the conditions in the Philippines" after opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr. was assassinated at the Manila airport months earlier.

Honorable mention

George W. Bush was no longer in office in 2011, but he canceled a trip to Switzerland after human rights activists threatened to protest and pursue legal action over accusations that he condoned the torture of terrorism suspects.


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