Papua New Guinea PM Hits Back at Biden’s ‘Cannibals’ Comment

( – While speaking at the United Steelworkers headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, President Biden told a story about the death of his uncle that angered the prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

On May 14, 1944, 2nd Lt. Ambrose J. Finnegan Jr.’s plane went down near New Guinea. Military records show that Finnegan was a passenger on a transport plane that crashed into the ocean after both engines failed. Of the four men on board, only one was found alive and Biden’s uncle was among the three whose bodies were never recovered. Biden’s offhand comment about cannibals in the Papua New Guinea region at the time was seems to have caused offense. Many took it to suggest his uncle survived the crash only to be killed by violent locals.

In a response on Monday, April 22, the prime minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) James Marape released a statement criticizing the president’s remarks. He said that his country does not deserve to be labeled in this way. He clarified that he understood it could have been a “slip of the tongue” on Biden’s part. Marape commented that they were needlessly dragged into a war that was not of “their doing”.

Marape then went on to describe the fear of live ordnance that his people live with that is still part of everyday life in his country. He then called for the United States to come solve the “mysteries of World War II”. He asserts the U.S. should clean up plane wrecks, shipwrecks, tunnels and bombs that still litter PNG and the Solomon Islands. Marape even suggested that in the wake of strong reactions that many have had to the implied criticism of PNG that it may be long past time for America to come and collect their dead.

The PNG prime minister just signed a security pact with the U.S. last year and met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday April 21. He will be meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese within the next week. PNG may be a pivotal U.S. strategic ally in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. China already has a security pact with the nearby Solomon Islands, which along with PNG could give them significant influence in that region.

Copyright 2024,