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Political Crisis Keeps Obama From Asia-Pacific Summit


Leaders of Asia-Pacific countries are wrapping up a major economic summit today in Indonesia. And as NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, much of the talk there focused not on trade or business, but on the event's big no show - President Obama.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: U.S. allies were looking forward to seeing the president at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting on the island of Bali. Particularly to gauge America's resolve to counterbalance a rising China. But Mr. Obama's decision to cancel the trip because of the government shutdown left some officials here deeply disappointed.

HUANG JING: This is disaster for United States of America.

LANGFITT: Huang Jing teaches political science at the National University of Singapore. He says Mr. Obama's absence only raises more questions.

JING: People would begin to wonder if United States really has the capability, and the commitment, to this important region.

LANGFITT: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came in Mr. Obama's place. He defended the president's decision to stay home to deal with a political crisis, and said it was no reflection on the United State's pledge to rebalance or refocus its foreign policy on this crucial part of the world.

SECRETARY JOHN KERRY: Nothing will diminish our commitment to Asia, the rebalance that President Obama is engaged in.

LANGFITT: Secretary Kerry also said the president's political opponents back home need to think beyond the Beltway.

KERRY: ...about the message that we send to the world when we can't get our own act together.

LANGFITT: Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Shanghai. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Frank Langfitt
Frank Langfitt is NPR's London correspondent. He covers the UK and Ireland, as well as the war in Ukraine and its implications in Europe. Langfitt has reported from more than fifty countries and territories around the globe.
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