Joe Biden's uncle eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea? The Prime Minister speaks of a “moment of vagueness”

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea on Monday (April 22) downplayed comments by Joe Biden suggesting that his uncle had been devoured by cannibals in that country

Joe Biden's uncle eaten by cannibals in Papua New Guinea? The Prime Minister speaks of a “moment of vagueness”

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea on Monday (April 22) downplayed comments by Joe Biden suggesting that his uncle had been devoured by cannibals in that country. “There are sometimes moments of confusion,” said James Marape, recalling that relations between the two countries were stronger than a simple “moment of vagueness”.

“I have met [Joe Biden] four times, and he has always had warm feelings for Papua New Guinea,” Mr. Marape also said, adding that the President of the United States had “not never mentioned Papua New Guinea to talk about cannibals.”

Last week, Mr. Biden caused astonishment after telling a family story, that of his uncle Ambrose Finnegan, killed in New Guinea during the Second World War. The American president claimed that this uncle's body was never found "because there were a lot of cannibals" in that region.

However, official military documents report that Ambrose Finnegan died at the same time as two other soldiers when his plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean for unknown reasons. A fourth occupant was rescued, but the other three were never found.

Series of gaffes

Cases of cannibalism have been documented among a small number of tribes in remote areas of Papua New Guinea, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. This has made the country the subject of stubborn clichés, which it has been trying to get rid of for decades.

Saying that "there are much deeper values ​​in our relationship than one statement, one word, one headline," Mr. Marape asked Mr. Biden to focus instead on eliminating unexploded ordnance, inherited from the Second World War, which still litter the archipelago. “I urge President Biden to ensure that the White House addresses the cleanup of these remains,” the prime minister wrote in a statement released Sunday. During a mine clearance operation carried out in 2014 on the island of Bougainville by Australian and American troops, sixteen tonnes of war munitions were destroyed.

Mr Biden's comments about his family history follow a series of gaffes that the US president has made recently. In February, he spoke of a conversation he would have had in 2021 with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, although he died in 2017. A few days earlier, he had already mentioned an exchange, supposedly in 2021, with the former French President François Mitterrand, whom he confused with Emmanuel Macron.

Mr. Biden's detractors, foremost among them Donald Trump, have repeatedly expressed doubts about the senility of the 81-year-old US president and his ability to lead a second term.