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Kerry Calls Government Shutdown a Brief Disruption

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Robert Wang, the U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission in China, during the APEC ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua

Washington – The partial shutdown of the U.S. government, which entered its fifth day on Saturday, is a “momentary episode” and does not change the U.S. commitment to Asia or elsewhere, Secretary of State John Kerry said. Kerry is acting as stand-in for President Barack Obama who canceled a tour of Asia, including a visit to the Indonesian resort island of Bali for a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders, because of the stalemate in Washington.

“Do not mistake this momentary episode in American politics as anything more than a moment of politics. This is an example of the robustness of our democracy,” Kerry said. But he added that if the shutdown were prolonged or repeated, people would question the U.S. ability to “stay the course.” In his meetings with foreign leaders in Bali, Kerry said he encountered an understanding of the problems in Washington.

“In the end nothing will change with respect to the issues that bring us here, nothing will diminish our commitment to Asia, we will continue to fulfill our responsibilities and our engagement around the world and I think people are confident of that,” he said. “Everybody in the region understands … everyone sees this as a moment in politics, an unfortunate moment, but they see it for what it is,” said Kerry, a former U.S. senator and U.S. presidential candidate.

The political standoff over the U.S. budget has shut down non-essential government services and appeared likely to drag on for another week or longer. Another crisis looms in two weeks when lawmakers must decide whether to increase the U.S. government’s $16.7 trillion debt borrowing limit.

While Kerry dismissed any long-term impact from the shutdown, he said it would however delay payments for security assistance to Israel and funding support for a U.S.-led peacekeeping mission in the Sinai peninsula, which divides Egypt and Israel. (Reuters)

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