WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 -- (Kyodo) _ U.S. President Barack Obama admitted Tuesday his absence from recent summits in Asia due to a domestic fiscal impasse has benefited China and affected negotiations for a U.S.-led trans-Pacific free trade pact.
"I'm sure the Chinese don't mind that I'm not there right now in the sense that...there are areas where we have differences and they can present their point of view and not get as much pushback as if I were there," Obama said at the White House.
Obama canceled a weeklong trip to Southeast Asia, originally planned from Sunday, to work in Washington on ending a partial U.S. government shutdown since Oct. 1 and avoiding a looming national default.
He missed a series of summits, including those related to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Indonesia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei, both of which Chinese leaders attended.
In the televised press conference Obama also said his absence from a summit in Indonesia on negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact has affected momentum toward signing the pact by the end of the year.
"It's almost like me not -- not showing up to my own party. I think it creates a sense of concern on the part of other leaders," Obama said. The United States, Japan and 10 other economies are involved in the TPP talks.
"I should have been there," Obama said, expressing his willingness to sign the TPP by the end of this year.
The United States organized the TPP summit in Bali aiming to give the talks a push after chief negotiators of the 12 countries held a preparatory meeting in Washington just last month.
On the ongoing partial shutdown of government operations, Obama said he will not budge in the showdown with Republicans as long as Congress continues to fail to pass the budget and agree to raise the national debt ceiling.
The U.S. government's partial shutdown since the Oct. 1 beginning of fiscal 2014 due to the failure to pass the budget is the first in nearly 18 years.
U.S. lawmakers have also failed to agree to raise the limit on the amount the government can borrow, which means the country could be short next week of funds needed to make payments such as the interest on national bonds.
(c) 2013 Kyodo News International, Inc.
Original headline: Obama admits no-show at Asia summits benefiting China, affecting TPP
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