Washington, DC, United States (4E) – President Barack Obama separately called Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday to tell them he is cancelling his scheduled visits to their countries next week.
Obama told Razak and Aquino that Secretary of State John Kerry will visit their countries in his stead.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the government shutdown made the logistics for Obama’s trips impossible. Congress failed to pass a budget bill for the new fiscal year that started Tuesday giving the federal government no funds to operate.
The implication of the cancellation, said Hayden, is that U.S. exports and leadership could not be promoted in the region.
Brunei and Indonesia are also part of Obama’s itinerary next week but the White House is still weighing if the trips there will also be cancelled.
The president’s plans to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Indonesia and another regional summit in Brunei.
Najib confirmed the cancellation to the media on Wednesday and said that Obama told him he would visit at a later date.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila confirmed Obama’s call to Aquino. The president was supposed to visit Manila for the first time on Oct. 11 to 12.
A presidential spokesman said Aquino understands Obama’s decision and hopes to meet him at a more opportune time.