THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
With deep regret, the President decided this evening to postpone his trip to Japan so that he can deal with the budget crisis in Washington. A few moments ago, the President informed Japanese Prime Minister Murayama of his decision and proposed that the Vice President travel to Japan in his place. The Prime Minister expressed understanding and welcomed the Vice President's visit to Japan.
As the President has said, the budget debate is a critical and defining moment for the future of our country. This weekend will be a crucial period in that debate -- requiring the President's immediate attention. The Republican leadership has indicated its intent to pass and send to the President another unacceptable budget resolution. The President feels strongly that he must be in the United States to respond to -- and if necessary veto -- this legislation.
The President is determined to keep the process moving forward, to do everything in his power to get a budget from Congress that protects the American people, and to make sure the government opens for business again as soon as possible.
It is unfortunate that this unprecedented political crisis has compelled the President to cancel his trip. The President considers our relationship with Japan and the other nations of the Asia Pacific region to be of great importance to the American people -- and that is why he has asked the Vice President to represent him at the APEC Summit, subject to concurrence by the other APEC member economies.
At the APEC Summit, the President expects the Vice President to continue the U.S. drive for open trade and markets in Asia that the President began in Seattle two years ago. More than half of America's trade is with the nations of this region. It sustains more than 3 million jobs here at home. The President's vision of open trade throughout Asia by 2020 is taking shape -- and the Vice President is expected to discuss with the APEC leaders the next steps to be taken to make that vision a reality.
In Japan, the Vice President will praise the remarkable partnership for progress the United States and Japan have built over the past fifty years and look ahead to the next half century of cooperation. He will reaffirm our commitment to keep our alliance strong and adapt it to meet new challenges -- like the spread of nuclear weapons, terrorism, and international crime and drug trafficking.
He will also review the progress we have made with Japan on trade over the past two and a half years and urge further efforts to open Japan's economy to our products. The twenty trade agreements this Administration has already signed with Japan are making a real difference to people on both sides of the Pacific. For the American people they have meant more exports and more jobs. For the Japanese people, they have meant greater choice and lower prices.
It is regrettable that Congress' failure to pass a budget that protects the American people, keeps our government open and keeps our country out of default has compelled the President to cancel his trip. The Vice President will carry on our work to make the American people more secure and open markets for America's workers and businesses.