WASHINGTON, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has canceled planned stops in the Philippines and Malaysia in his upcoming trip to Asia, due to the government shutdown at home, the White House said Wednesday.
Obama spoke by phone Tuesday night with Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak respectively about the cancellation of his planned visits to the two Southeast Asian countries, citing the ongoing government shutdown, the White House said.
In his call to Aquino, Obama reaffirmed the U.S. "strong alliance" with the Philippines and respect for Aquino's leadership, while pledging to visit the Philippines later in his term.
"He also noted our shared commitment to the security of the Philippines, and the broader security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, and told the president that Secretary (of State John) Kerry would travel to Manila in his place," the statement said.
Speaking with Najib, Obama reaffirmed the U.S. "close partnership" with Malaysia and respect for Najib's leadership, and promised to visit Malaysia later in his term.
Obama welcomed Malaysia's strong leadership of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, adding that Kerry would lead a U.S. delegation to Kuala Lumpur, which includes Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the White House said.
The U.S. president originally planned to visit Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines on Oct. 6-12, as part of his ongoing commitment to increase U.S. political, economic and security engagement with the Asia Pacific.
Despite the changes in his trip, Obama will continue the planned visits to Indonesia and Brunei. He will attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Indonesia and host a meeting of leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries on the sidelines of the APEC meeting. And during his visit to Brunei, he is to attend the U.S.-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.
The Republican-led House and the Democrat-controlled Senate failed to reach a deal before Monday over a funding bill for the U.S. federal government, as the Senate has repeatedly refused to pass any bill adopted by the House that includes provisions to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
When the country's 2013 fiscal year expired Monday midnight, the U.S. government was forced into the first partial shutdown in 17 years. Though essential public services ranging from postal services to national security remain in operation, up to 1 million government employees are affected and some of them have to stay home on unpaid furlough.
An intensified political battle is expected to be fought by the two parties in U.S. Congress in the coming days or weeks as they will try to negotiate a way out of the government shutdown.
In a speech at the White House on Tuesday, Obama chided Republicans in Congress for the shutdown and defended his signature health care law, warning that "the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be."
Obama stressed that this shutdown is neither about deficits nor budgets, but about "rolling back the Affordable Care Act," which passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law in 2010. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional last year.