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Barack Obama shortens Asia trip due to US shutdown

Washington(CakaraNews) Wednesday Oct,02,2013.President Barack Obama has postponed two stops on his four-nation Asian tour because of the government shutdown. The White House said it was "logistically... not possible" to go ahead with the trips to Malaysia and the Philippines at the end of his tour. But he would still be attending regional summits in Indonesia and Brunei, the White House added.

The US government has partially shut down after the two houses of Congress failed to agree a new budget. More than 700,000 federal employees face unpaid leave, and national parks, museums and many buildings are closed.

Mr Obama earlier vowed not to allow Republicans to undermine his signature healthcare legislation as a condition to restart the US government. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote It's a nightmare for me financially, it causes me a lot of anxiety and stress and I don't sleep well at night” Peter Gamba Treasury department employee US shutdown worries world media Hyundai to help US federal employees "They demanded ransom," Mr Obama said. Four-nation trip Mr Obama had been scheduled to begin his four-nation Asian trip on Saturday, heading to Bali for an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit and Brunei for the East Asia summit before travelling on to Malaysia and the Philippines.

The White House said that "logistically, it was not possible to go ahead" with the trips to Malaysia and the Philippines.

"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," the White House said in a statement. "Unlike the Apec and East Asia Summits, these trips can also be rescheduled, and President Obama looks forward to visiting Malaysia and the Philippines later in his term." Earlier, the office of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Mr Obama had called him to inform him that Secretary of State John Kerry would address an entrepreneurship conference in Kuala Lumpur on 11 October in his place.

The view on the shutdown from deserted landmarks and government buildings in Washington and New York Mr Obama has been forced to call off trips to Asia before because of issues at home. In 2010, a vote on healthcare and the Gulf of Mexico oil spill forced separate cancellations in March and June, though he did make it to India, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia in November of that year.

'A lot of anxiety'

The US government ceased operations deemed non-essential at midnight on Tuesday, when the previous budget expired. National parks and Washington's Smithsonian museums are closed, pension and veterans' benefit cheques will be delayed, and visa and passport applications will go unprocessed.

However, members of the military will be paid. One group of elderly military veterans managed to bypass the shutdown when the WWII Memorial in Washington DC - that they had travelled from Mississippi to see - was opened for them.

Treasury department employee Peter Gamba told the BBC he was worried by the turn of events. "For whatever reason I cannot fathom, you're asking me to again give up my pay and give up service to the American public," he said.

"It's a nightmare for me financially, it causes me a lot of anxiety and stress and I don't sleep well at night."