Obama cancels trip to PH because of shutdown
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is canceling two stops on his long-planned trip to Asia because of the partial government shutdown.
Obama is scheduled to leave Saturday night for what was originally a four-nation tour. The White House says Obama will still travel to Indonesia and Brunei, but is calling off the final two stops in Malaysia and the Philippines.
In both cases, Secretary of State John Kerry will take the president’s place, the White House said in a statement.
“This morning, US President Barack Obama conveyed to President Benigno S. Aquino III that he regrets that he will not be able to push through with his visit to Manila this month,” Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Assistant Secretary Raul Hernandez said in the statement.
“President Obama explains that this is because of issues relating to the US Government shutdown,” he said.
The shutdown took effect early Tuesday after Congress missed its deadline to fund the government.
“President Aquino understands the decision of President Obama. Philippines-US relations remain strong and forward-looking,” Hernandez said.
The US President had been set to fly to Manila on October 11 and 12, his supposed first trip to the Philippines. His predecessor George W. Bush visited the country in a whirlwind nine-hour trip in 2003.
Earlier, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak made a public statement that Obama called him up to inform him of the cancellation.
The trip is part of Obama’s broader focus on boosting US economic ties with Asia. Obama twice canceled trips to Asia in 2010, once to stay in Washington for votes on his health care law, and once because of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Philippines and the US are in the middle of negotiations for increased presence of American troops in the country as Manila builds up its external defense amid regional threats.
The US is the country’s closest defense partner and among the biggest contributors in trade, investment and aid. With reports from Tarra Quismundo, PDI and Agence France-Presse
Originally posted at 6:05 p.m.
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