Bush postpones meeting with Asean leaders

US PRESIDENT George W. Bush has postponed a summit with Asean leaders, scheduled for September in Singapore, to a “future date’’, the White House said yesterday.

Mr Bush had been set to attend the summit with Southeast Asian leaders in early September as part of an overseas tour that would also take him to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney, Australia.

Earlier this month, Singapore was said to be consulting other Asean countries and Washington over alternative dates for the meeting.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said then that US officials had informed Singapore, the coordinator for the Asean-US Dialogue, that the proposed date of Sept 5 was not convenient.

Yesterday a White House spokesman said: “As the Singaporeans had previously announced, the US-Asean meeting has been postponed.

“The President looks forward to the summit being rescheduled and to meeting Asean at a future date.”

No further details were available as to when that might be.

This year marks the 30th year of formal US-Asean ties, and the US President’s visit was seen as an opportunity to raise the profile of Asia and Asean on the US agenda.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe was quoted by AFP as saying yesterday that “for scheduling reasons it didn’t work out for this trip” and that the meeting would most likely be held later in the year.

He did not elaborate on what the scheduling problems were, but a Bush administration source said that Mr Bush was expected to face a series of votes on Iraq in Congress at around the same time and that it was “too dicey” a time for him to leave the country.

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