Long US political crisis ‘reckless’: Kerry

AFP, NUSA DUA, Indonesia

Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - Page 1

US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday warned that the political standoff paralyzing Washington was “reckless” and would weaken the US’ standing abroad if it did not end soon.

The US’ top diplomat said the bitter struggle between Republicans and Democrats that has led to a partial government shutdown was sending a message to the world that the US could not get its “act together.”

Kerry insisted the US had not yet been diminished in the eyes of leaders around the world and that a solution would be found soon, but warned of consequences if the standoff continued.

“If it were prolonged, or repeated, people would begin to question the willingness of the United States to stay the course and its ability to,” Kerry told reporters at a meeting of the APEC forum on the Indonesian island of Bali. “But that’s not the case and I don’t think it will be the case.”

US President Barack Obama had been due to travel to Bali for an APEC leaders’ summit starting tomorrow. However, he had to cancel his Asian trip, which would have also taken in Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines, to deal with the first government shutdown in 17 years.

Kerry is filling in for Obama on the Asian tour and he made it clear that he believed blocking government spending in the US Congress was a dangerous game.

“I think it is reckless, personally, to even provide those moments where you have these risks that are exposed,” Kerry said, referring to areas of spending on global security hotspots that have been suspended because of the shutdown.

Calling on Congress to immediately end the five-day standoff, Kerry urged those responsible to consider how other people around the world may view the situation.

“I believe that those standing in the way ... of reopening our government need to think long and hard about the message that we send to the world when we can’t get our own act together,” he said.

Kerry said he was convinced the standoff would not be long term, and the US would emerge as strong as ever, while Obama’s so-called strategic pivot to the Asia-Pacific had not been weakened.

“Let me be clear, none of what is happening in Washington diminishes one iota our commitment to our partners in Asia, including our efforts for both trade and investment throughout the region,” Kerry said.