Obama cancels Asia trip due to shutdown

No signs of progress with Republicans means White House decides to scrap visit

A closed sign hangs at the entrance to the US treasury building in Washington D.C. Photograph: Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

A closed sign hangs at the entrance to the US treasury building in Washington D.C. Photograph: Julia Schmalz/Bloomberg

Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 10:18

US president Barack Obama cancelled the last of his scheduled destinations last night in a trip he had planned for Asia, saying the government shutdown had made it impossible to travel to a Pacific Rim economic conference in Indonesia or an East Asian security conference in Brunei next week.

Mr Obama had already scrapped visits to Malaysia and the Philippines because of the shutdown, but had kept the two other meetings on the schedule in the hopes of a deal that would break the impasse with House Republicans.

But with no sign of progress, and with Mr Obama’s departure looming, the White House decided to cancel the rest of the trip.

It is a significant setback for Mr Obama, who has made Asia a centrepiece of his foreign policy.

In a statement, the press secretary, Jay Carney, said: “The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government. 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.”

He added: “The president looks forward to continuing his work with our allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific and to returning to the region at a later date.”

Mr Obama telephoned the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and the sultan of Brunei last night to tell him he would not be coming.

New York Times