SEPANG: US President Barack Obama has postponed his Oct 11 visit to Malaysia to handle a domestic crisis following the shutdown of the US federal government, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Prime Minister said Obama telephoned him yesterday to personally inform him.
“President Obama said that in view of what is happening in the US, particularly the situation that resulted in the partial shutdown of the US federal government, he would not be making the trip to Malaysia.
“He, however, mentioned that he is still very keen and committed to visit Malaysia on another date which will be determined later.
“President Obama also appreciated Malaysia’s role and the bilateral trade between Malaysia and the United States,” Najib told reporters after the expansion project of the Sepang Aircraft Engineering regional Maintenance, Repairs and Overhaul (MRO) centre here.
Obama was initially supposed to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur in what would have been his first visit to Malaysia.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will now represent him at the summit together with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and US Trade Representative Michael Froman.
Najib said he told Obama that he understood the situation.
“I empathise and I understand. If I were in his shoes, I would do the same. With such a major domestic crisis, it will be very hard for the US President to leave the country.
“In fact, he will be severely criticised if he were to embark on an overseas trip and not be in the country to resolve the crisis,” he said.
Najib said the crisis should not have any immediate impact on the Malaysian economy as no one knew how long the shutdown would continue.
“The most serious consequence will be on Oct 17 if they do not review the debt ceiling. That means it will have a serious consequence on the US economy.
“With a major slowdown and even worse – recession – that certainly will affect global growth and Malaysia as well.
“However, it is still too early to say,” he said.
On whether Malaysia should continue with the Trans-Pacific Partner-ship Agreement (TPPA) negotiations as the United States, as the host country, was facing a crisis, Najib said: “It is quite separate from the current crisis in US which is subject to internal process. It (the crisis) has nothing to do with the TPPA.