- POSTED: 11 Oct 2013 19:50
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US Secretary of State John Kerry has downplayed fears that US will not be able to pay its bills come Thursday and said its political problems will pass, during his visit in Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: US Secretary of State John Kerry has downplayed fears that the United States will not be able to pay its bills come Thursday.
Filling in for US President Barack Obama at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia, he said US's political problems will pass.
President Obama could not be in Malaysia because of the government shutdown at home, but he made his presence felt.
Mr Obama said: "The United States of America wants to be your partner. We want you to succeed. And when I think of your passion and creativity, I could not be more optimistic about the future we can build together."
And he promised to visit Malaysia in the future.
If Mr Obama had made it to Kuala Lumpur this time, he would have been the first US President to visit the country in 46 years.
And some participants felt his attendance would have boosted the summit.
One participant said: "If he had been here it would have been more excitement. We would have been prouder that he had come to this country."
Another participant said he was quite disappointed that President Obama didn't manage to come, but that it was okay since “we get to see and hear Secretary of State John Kerry."
The US Secretary of State took the President's place, and took pains to allay concerns about the problems in the US, particularly fears of a possible debt default, as the October 17 deadline looms.
Mr Kerry said: "What is happening in our capital, in Washington is really nothing more than a moment of politics and it will pass."
Failure of the White House and Congress to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling could force the world's largest economy into recession, and that would have serious repercussions worldwide.
But there were also lighter moments during Mr Kerry’s visit.
Together with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Mr Kerry spent time with youths on the sidelines of the summit, promising them every opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills.
Mr Kerry said: "Are you ready to be the next Steve Jobs?"
While the youths were excited upon meeting Mr Kerry and welcomed pledges from US and Malaysia to promote entrepreneurship, others are skeptical about US government policies, especially in pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with Malaysia.
Over 100 Malaysians staged a protest after Friday prayers outside the summit's venue, accusing the US of protecting corporate interests at the expense of public welfare, despite denials from US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
Commerce Secretary Pritzker said: "The world is very inter-connected, and one of the things we know is that we're not going to be able to turn that inter-connection backwards.
“So establishing the ability for free trade to occur is something that will endure to the benefits of all economies. This is not about someone winning and someone losing."
The protestors worry that access to affordable medicine will be curtailed, knowledge will be restricted, and Malaysia's sovereignty will be undermined by entering into the TPP currently being negotiated among 12 countries.
Fearing political backlash, Prime Minister Najib has promised to protect the country's interests and debate the TPP in parliament.
He said that any decision to sign the agreement will only be made next year, even though the US is sticking to its year-end deadline.