Obama won’t push through with PH trip

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President Barack Obama has cancelled his trip to the Philippines and Malaysia following the shutdown of the US government.

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday confirmed that Obama will no longer push through with his Manila visit on October 11 and 12. It would have been his first official visit to the Philippines.

“This morning, United States President Barack Obama conveyed to President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd that he regrets that he will not be able to push through with his visit to Manila this month,” Raul Hernandez, DFA spokesman, said in a statement.

“President Aquino understands the decision of President Obama. Philippines-US relations remain strong and forward-looking,” he added.

Obama’s presence at two international summits—an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meet in Bali and the East Asia summit in Brunei—is also in doubt.

In separate statements, the White House said Secretary of State John Kerry will take the President’s place in the visits to Malaysia and the Philippines.

Obama was to have traveled to Bali for APEC, Brunei for the East Asia summit, and then tour Malaysia and the Philippines. He was to leave Saturday for the weeklong trip.

The United States Embassy in Manila said in a statement that Obama, who personally called Mr. Aquino to inform him about the cancellation of his Manila trip, assured the Philippines of the strong alliance between the two governments.

He is also committed to travel to the Philippines “later in his term,” the embassy added.

“He also noted our shared commitment to the security of the Philippines, and the broader security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region . . . and highlighted the deep ties between our peoples, including so many Filipino-Americans who have enriched our country,” the embassy said.

“Logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shutdown,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said of the Malaysia and Philippines visits.

“Because they are on the back end of the President’s upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning.”

But the trips can be rescheduled, and Obama looks forward to going to both countries later in his second term, she said.

Manila and the United States are close to reaching a deal on allowing more US troops to rotate through the Philippines.

The US Embassy said it will continue its visa processing and consular affairs operations despite the partial shutdown of the US government.

“Activities carried out by the Bureau of Consular Affairs, both domestically and abroad, are fee-funded and will continue operations,” Kurt Hoyer, the embassy’s first secretary and press attache, said.

The consular affairs has previously relied on a mixture of fees and appropriated funds for its operations, but has since moved to funding from retained fees, the embassy added.

“Thus, we can continue these operations even given the appropriations lapse [shutdown],” Hoyer said.

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