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President Barack Obama has decided to cancel his trip to Asia because of the US government shutdown.

Barack Obama will miss two summits, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting in Indonesia.

The decision was made due to the “difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown”, the White House said.

The US government closed non-essential operations after the two houses of Congress failed to agree a new budget.

Barack Obama called Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Friday morning and expressed his regret for the cancellation.

The visit has not been rescheduled.

Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the APEC gathering and the East Asia summit in Brunei in Barack Obama’s place, the White House said.

“The cancellation of this trip is another consequence of the House Republicans forcing a shutdown of the government,” the White House said in a statement.

“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,” the statement added.

President Barack Obama has decided to cancel his trip to Asia because of the US government shutdown

President Barack Obama has decided to cancel his trip to Asia because of the US government shutdown

Barack Obama had been due to begin a four-nation Asian trip on Saturday, heading to Bali and Brunei for regional summits before travelling on to Malaysia and the Philippines.

On Wednesday, the White House had said Barack Obama would postpone his trips to Malaysia and the Philippines because of the US government shutdown, but maintained that he would travel to Indonesia and Brunei.

The US government began a partial shutdown earlier this week after Republicans refused to approve a budget, saying they would only do so if funding for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms was delayed.

On Friday, Democrats and Republicans appeared no closer to resolving the feud.

The US also faces running out of money and defaulting on its debt if there is no agreement to raise government borrowing limits later this month.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said on Thursday that a failure to raise the US debt ceiling would be a far worse threat to the global economy than the current shutdown.

She said it was “mission critical” that the US agrees a new debt limit.

Christine Lagarde’s comments were echoed by the US Treasury.

It said a debt default could lead to a financial crisis as bad as 2008 or worse.

Meanwhile, the impact of the shutdown was being felt across the country.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not send investigators to a deadly church bus crash in Tennessee that killed eight people and injured 14 others.

The Labor Department also said it wouldn’t release the highly anticipated September jobs report on Friday because the government remains shuttered.


With Tropical Storm Karen bearing down on the Gulf States, the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), carried a message saying: “Due to the Federal government shutdown, NOAA.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable.”

It referred visitors to the National Weather Service.

However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recalled workers to help prepare for the storm.

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Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard has outlined Asia manifesto, a major foreign policy plan aimed at improving Asian ties.

The government white paper sets out 25 national objectives to be met by 2025, with targets ranging from improving trade links to teaching more Mandarin.

Julia Gillard said she wanted to refocus Australia away from Europe’s “old countries” towards its near neighbors – particularly China and India.

The plan is detailed in a 312-page paper, Australia in the Asian Century.

With Asia on track to become home to most of the world’s middle class in the next 20 years, this was a moment in history to grasp, said Julia Gillard during the release of the white paper at Sydney’s Lowy Institute.

“The scale and pace of Asia’s rise is staggering, and there are significant opportunities and challenges for all Australians,” she said.

“It is not enough to rely on luck – our future will be determined by the choices we make and how we engage with the region we live in.”

While Julia Gillard underlined continued strategic ties with the US, her speech formalized trends built up during the past three decades in which China has become Australia’s top trading partner, ahead of Japan, the US and South Korea.

Previous prime ministers such as Bob Hawke and Paul Keating established the first ties with Asia, but the new policy would be deeper and more organized.

Some of the goals outlined are specific, others more aspirational. They include:

• Boosting Australia’s average national income from $62,000 per person now to $73,000 in 2025

• Improving the school system so it is ranked in the world’s top five, with 10 of its universities in the world’s top 100

• Making studies of Asia a core part of the Australian school curriculum

• Giving all students the opportunity to learn a priority Asian language – Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Indonesian or Japanese

• Making sure more business leaders are “Asia-literate”

A member of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, Australia is one of the 11 nations involved in negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), both of which aim to liberalize regional trade.

On security issues, Australia in the Asian Century says any policy aimed at containing China’s military growth would not work.

Rather, it says Australia can balance its defence ties to the US while backing China’s emerging military strength.