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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama said Tuesday he should have been at twin summits in Asia this week but that he expected no “lasting damage” from his absence.

Obama, who canceled his trip due to a showdown with Republican lawmakers, said he believed that China felt less “pushback” to their positions at the gatherings because he wasn’t there.

“I can tell you, because I had to apologize to some of the host countries, that they understood that the most important thing I can do for them and the most important thing I can do for the bilateral relationship in America is making sure we reopen our government and don’t default,” Obama told a news conference.

“So I don’t think it’s going to do lasting damage,” he said.

Obama, who has tried to reorient U.S. policy toward Asia, skipped the summits in Bali and Brunei after the U.S. government shut down due to a budget impasse in Congress.

The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has refused to vote to allow the government to stay open and a default is forecast on October 17 as it insists on revisions to Obama’s signature healthcare law.

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