- POSTED: 05 Oct 2013 16:00
- UPDATED: 05 Oct 2013 17:00
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Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Saturday the "reckless" political standoff paralysing Washington could weaken the United States on the world stage if it did not end soon.
NUSA DUA, Indonesia: Secretary of State John Kerry warned on Saturday the "reckless" political standoff paralysing Washington could weaken the United States on the world stage if it did not end soon.
The country's 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 United States could not "get its act together".
Kerry insisted the United States 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 an Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation 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 Monday.
But he had to cancel his Asian trip, which would have also taken him to 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 Republicans blocking government spending in Congress were playing 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 national security that have been suspended because of the shutdown.
Nevertheless, Kerry emphasised that the United States would emerge from the crisis relatively unscathed, and that he was convinced the standoff would not be long term.
"The United States will still be the strongest power in the world in terms of our military capacity, the largest economy in the world," he said.
Kerry also sought to emphasise that Obama's so-called strategic pivot to Asia had not been weakened by the crisis, despite the president having to cancel his trip to the region.
"Let me be clear, none of what is happening in Washington diminishes one iota our commitment to our partners in Asia," Kerry said.
Obama is refusing to negotiate with Republicans over budget issues until they pass a temporary bill to open the government and agree to raise the $16.7 trillion US statutory borrowing limit -- without which Washington could default on its debts for the first time ever later this month.
But Republicans are demanding the president enter into talks on their goal to defund or delay his health reform law -- a step Obama refuses to take.