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Obama cancels Asia trip over US shutdown

US President scraps plans to attend APEC summit as he seeks to break deadlock between Democrats and Republicans.

Last Modified: 04 Oct 2013 05:26
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President Barack Obama has cancelled plans to attend Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit because of the US government shutdown in Washington.

The White House said in a written statement on Thursday night that Obama had scrapped travel to Bali and a subsequent trip to nearby Brunei for the East Asia Summit.

"Due to the government shut-down, President Obama's travel to Indonesia and Brunei has been cancelled," the statement read.

"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 Obama had phoned Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, on Thursday night to tell him he could not attend.

Kerry visit

"He expressed his regret that the ongoing government shutdown in the United States will prevent him from attending the summit," the statement read.

The White House said Obama reaffirmed the importance of the US-Indonesia partnership, and his personal affection for the people of Indonesia, where he spent several years as a student after his mother and step-father moved to the Asia-Pacific country.

The statement said that Secretary of State John Kerry would take Obama's place in Bali.

Obama had planned to leave on Saturday for what had originally been a four-nation, week-long Asia trip.

Take a vote. Stop this farce, and end this shutdown right now.

US President Barack Obama

He had cancelled visits to Malaysia and the Philippines earlier this week because of his budget struggle with Republicans in Congress.

'Stop this farce'

Obama challenged Republicans to earlier on Thursday to "stop this farce" by allowing a straight vote on a spending bill.

Both sides in the standoff, triggered by Republican efforts to halt Obama's healthcare reforms, appeared entrenched.

Fears grew that the crisis would merge with a more complex fight looming later this month over raising the federal debt limit and that this could stymie any attempts to end the shutdown before the middle of October.

Obama said there were enough Republicans willing to pass a spending bill immediately if House Speaker John Boehner would allow a vote on a spending bill without partisan conditions attached, a so-called clean vote. But Obama said the speaker was refusing to do so because "he doesn't want to anger the extremists in his party."

"My simple message today is 'Call a vote,'" Obama said in a speech at a construction company in Maryland.

"Take a vote. Stop this farce, and end this shutdown right now."

He warned that as painful as the government shutdown was, a default caused by a failure to raise the debt limit would be dramatically worse for the economy as a whole.

Boehner's spokesman said the speaker had "always said that the US will not default on its debt."

"He also always says that there aren't votes in the House to pass a 'clean' debt limit bill. That's why we need a bill with cuts and reforms," the spokesman said. 

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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