Opinion

On the Menu for Australia’s State Visit: China, Trade and ‘Rock Lobster’

Five months ago, President Biden canceled a trip to Australia because the United States was on the brink of defaulting on its debt, and it seemed like a bad time to leave town. Then he extended an invitation to Anthony Albanese, the prime minister of Australia, for a state visit in Washington — a redo of sorts, when things would be calmer.

Then again, maybe there’s never really a good time.

This week, Mr. Biden is steering American involvement in two overseas wars and monitoring the continuing calamity of a speakerless House of Representatives, and there is another government shutdown crisis looming next month.

This state visit, set to begin on Tuesday evening and feature a lavish dinner on Wednesday after a day of diplomacy, gives Mr. Biden an opportunity to nurture relations with an ally he sees as key to countering China, one of the president’s top priorities at a time of domestic and international tumult.

And there will be a minute or two scheduled for fun: The B-52s, a Georgia-bred group most famous for their hits “Love Shack” and “Rock Lobster,” will provide the entertainment, a White House official said.

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, played down the idea that global crises could distract Mr. Biden from his visitor, or perhaps even keep him waiting.

“Being president of the United States means balancing an awful lot of priorities and challenges, whether they’re domestic or foreign, and oftentimes the line between those blur pretty dang quickly,” Mr. Kirby told reporters on Tuesday.

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