President Obama’s already shortened trip to Asia was canceled Thursday, the White House calling it a casualty of the government shutdown.
Obama had been scheduled to leave Washington Saturday to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Indonesia, and the East Asia Summit in Brunei.
“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,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement. “Secretary [Of State John] Kerry will lead delegations to both countries in place of the President.”
The White House announced last month that Obama would take a four-nation, seven-day tour focused on economic issues and security that also was to include stops in Malaysia and the Philippines. Earlier this week, the White House had canceled those two legs of the trip because of the shutdown of parts of the U.S. federal government, which began Tuesday morning.
The highlight of the trip was to have been Obama’s participation in the APEC meeting. But several published reports had said Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin also might use the trip for a one-on-one discussion on the situation in Syria.
The White House said Obama personally called the leaders of Indonesia and Brunei to deliver the news. Carney said Obama hoped to return to Southeast Asia “at a later date.”