Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has criticised U.S. President Barack Obama for sending a wrong message to Asia when he cancelled his attendance to two regional summits in favour of his government's shutdown.
Mr Obama has previously pledged to focus more on Asia, but as the news of a U.S. government shutdown was threatening to cripple government operations, he cancelled what was supposed to be a four-nation trip including two Asian summits.
Ms Gillard said at the Center for American Progress in Washington DC that she was with other world leaders in the APEC forum in Bali when it was announced that Mr Obama had cancelled all his prior engagements in Asia.
Ms Gillard said "you could hear the painful thud" when news broke about Mr Obama's non-attendance. According to Ms Gillard, there were other countries in this region that were working out plans for long-term alliances.
She also added that Mr Obama is sending a wrong message when he missed two important meetings in Asia. Ms Gillard's remarks came after Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey believed Mr Obama's cancellation of the APEC and East Asia Summit had impacted the U.S. influence in the region.
The failure of Mr Obama to attend the two regional events had a negative effect in Asia since both the U.S. and Asia have been key drivers to those summits.
Meanwhile, Julia Gillard jokingly remarked that she was not worried if the U.S. will spy on her telephone amid spying reports of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone.
When asked if his cancellation will have long-term damage on the region, he said it would and sent Secretary of State John Kerry to take his place.
Aside from the APEC summit in Bali, he also missed the East Asia Summit in Brunei and a visit to the Philippines and Malaysia.