Papua New Guinea leader takes offence as Biden implies cannibals ate his uncle

22 April 2024, 08:44

James Marape
Australia Papua New Guinea. Picture: PA

The US President’s uncle, Ambrose Finnegan, was shot down over Papua New Guinea during the Second World War, and his body was never found.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has accused Joe Biden of disparaging the South Pacific island nation by implying that an uncle of the US President had been eaten by “cannibals” there during the Second World War.

Mr Biden’s comments offended a key strategic ally as China moves to increase its influence in the region.

The US President spoke at a Pennsylvania war memorial last week about his US Army Air Corps aviator uncle Ambrose Finnegan, who was shot down over Papua New Guinea, which saw heavy fighting during the war.

“They never found the body because there used to be — there were a lot of cannibals for real in that part of New Guinea,” Mr Biden said, referring to the country’s main island.

Mr Marape said Mr Biden “appeared to imply his uncle was eaten by cannibals”.

In a statement, he added: “President Biden’s remarks may have been a slip of the tongue; however, my country does not deserve to be labelled as such.”

“World War Two was not the doing of my people; however, they were needlessly dragged into a conflict that was not their doing,” Mr Marape added.

The rift comes as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese began a visit on Monday to Papua New Guinea, Australia’s nearest neighbour.

Mr Albanese and Mr Marape will commemorate strong defence ties between the two countries by walking part of a pivotal battle ground known as the Kokoda Track later this week.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden spoke about the disappearance of his uncle during the Second World War (AP)

“I’m very confident that PNG has no stronger partner than Australia and our defence and security ties have never been stronger,” Mr Albanese told reporters before departing Australia.

The US Embassy in Port Moresby did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Marape’s statement was released on the same day he met China’s foreign minister Wang Yi in Port Moresby to discuss building closer relations.

Papua New Guinea’s leader also called on the US to find its war dead in Papua New Guinea’s jungles and to clean up the wreckage of war.

“The remains of World War Two lie scattered all over PNG, including the plane that carried President Biden’s uncle,” Mr Marape said.

“Perhaps, given President Biden’s comments and the strong reaction from PNG and other parts of the world, it is time for the USA to find as many remains of World War Two in PNG as possible, including those of servicemen who lost their lives like Ambrose Finnegan,” he said.

“The theatres of war in PNG and Solomon Islands are many, and littered with the remains of World War Two including human remains, plane wrecks, ship wrecks, tunnels and bombs. Our people daily live with the fear of being killed by detonated bombs of World War Two,” Mr Marape added.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Villagers search through a landslide in Yambali village in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s government says landslide buried 2,000 people

Rafah airstrike that killed dozens of Palestinians was 'tragic mistake', says Israel's Netanyahu

Rafah airstrike that killed dozens of displaced Palestinians was 'tragic mistake', says Israel's Netanyahu

Biden

Biden says each generation has to ‘earn’ freedom in Memorial Day remarks

APTOPIX Israel Palestinians

Netanyahu acknowledges ‘tragic mistake’ after Rafah strike kills dozens

North Korea fails to launch 'spy satellite' into orbit again - but forces Japanese island to 'take cover'

North Korea fails to launch 'spy satellite' into orbit again - but forces Japanese island to 'take cover'

Kim Jong-un and North Korean flag (Alamy/PA)

North Korea says its attempt to put another spy satellite into orbit has failed

Austria IAEA

Iran further increases stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade level

Elon Musk in 2024

Elon Musk’s xAI raises six billion dollars to develop artificial intelligence

Racial and Gender Equity in European Football Conference – Thursday February 1st – City Ground

Ex-France footballer Karembeu says two of his relatives killed in New Caledonia

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah

Israel faces new condemnation over Rafah strikes

A man looks at a damaged car after a tornado in Valley View, Texas

At least 20 dead as storms carve path of destruction across southern US

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, is welcomed by Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez

Zelensky visits Spain in pursuit of weapons for Ukraine to fight Russia with

Vehicles move through a waterlogged street in Kolkata, India

Cyclone floods villages, blows away roofs and cuts power in Bangladesh and India

Iran’s acting president Mohammad Mokhber

Iran’s acting president addresses parliament after fatal helicopter crash

Around 15,000 locals took part in the protest

15,000 anti-tourism protesters boo holidaymakers in Majorca as organisers vow 'this is just the start'

Demonstrators with Georgia flags at a protest against the bill

Georgian parliament committee rejects presidential veto of media law