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Obama cancels Asian trip over govt shutdown

By Agencies in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-10-05 07:36

United States

US President Barack Obama is canceling a trip to Asia to stay in Washington and push for an elusive funding bill to get business back up and running after days of a US government shutdown.

In a statement late on Thursday, the White House blamed Republicans, saying the "completely avoidable" government shutdown was hurting the president's efforts to promote trade and US influence in emerging world markets. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Bali, Indonesia, on Friday and will head the US delegation to the summits.

The political standoff over the US budget has shut down nonessential government services and appears likely to drag on for another week or longer. Another crisis looms in two weeks when lawmakers must decide whether to increase the US government's $16.7 trillion debt borrowing limit.

Obama had planned to depart on Saturday for a four-nation, weeklong trip. He canceled visits to Malaysia and the Philippines this week and held out hope that a budget deal would allow the visit to Bali and Brunei, where more economic summits were planned, but decided to cancel the entire trip on Thursday.

"The president made this decision based on the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown, and his determination to continue pressing his case that Republicans should immediately allow a vote to reopen the government," the White House said.

Lawmakers said the government shutdown seemed to be quickly merging with a more critical showdown over the nation's expiring line of credit, raising the stakes for the still-fragile economy.

"The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. "This completely avoidable shutdown is setting back our ability to create jobs through promotion of US exports and advance US leadership and interests in the largest emerging region in the world."

"We are disappointed," said Indonesian Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring on the island of Bali, host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit from Sunday.

"I think the summit will go on, there is a long-term plan. (But) without Obama, you can imagine how disappointed we are. We could hardly imagine he wouldn't come."


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