U.S. President Barack Obama has postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia until June. The president had been scheduled to leave on Sunday, 21 March, but will remain in Washington to help push his health care reform plan through Congress.
With the centerpiece of President Obama's domestic agenda at a crucial stage in the legislative process, Mr. Obama has decided his trip to the Asia-Pacific region will have to wait.
In the White House Rose Garden, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters Mr. Obama looks forward to making the trip in June.
"I will tell you that the president believed it was an important trip now and believes it will be an important trip, based on many of the things we have discussed - whether it is counterterrorism, whether it is our export agenda - a whole host of things," said Robert Gibbs.
This is the second time the president's departure has been put off due to the health care debate. He was originally scheduled to leave on Thursday, and last week the trip was postponed by three days.
Robert Gibbs says Mr. Obama was especially looking forward to his meetings in Indonesia.
"I think the president is disappointed, based on the relationship that we have with a growing democracy, with an important country in our counterterrorism relationship, with a country that is the largest Muslim country in the world," he said.
Gibbs says the decision to postpone the trip was made Thursday morning, when it became apparent that a congressional vote on health care might take place on Sunday, and that the president's departure could not be delayed any further.
"We had a speech to the Australian parliament that you do not want to call on Sunday and say, 'Hey, is there a way we can move this back a day?'", said Gibbs.
Gibbs said no decision has been made about the possibility of adding more countries to the rescheduled trip in June, but he did not rule it out.
The spokesman also did not say whether the president's wife and two daughters will accompany him in June.