BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei - Secretary of State John Kerry has canceled a scheduled trip to the Philippines due to the threat posed by tropical storm Nari, he announced at a news conference Thursday.
Standing next to his counterpart from the Philippines, Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario, he said the decision had been taken to postpone the visit “because of the judgment of our pilots and the airlines” about the approaching weather system.
Forecasters say the storm, named in the region as Santi, could strike the northern Philippines as early as Friday, bringing strong winds and heavy rains.
“I'm sorry not to be there in the next day or so, but the good news is I am absolutely committed to returning within a month or so,” Kerry told reporters in Brunei where was was on the latest stop in an Asia tour. "I am coming back to the region and I look forward to visiting my friends in the Philippines and I'm very grateful to President Aquino, to the Foreign Minister for their understanding of the situation.
“This is a big storm, obviously storms can change paths at last minute. We wish the people of the Philippines safety and their well-being is our concern in the course of the next days.”
Kerry had planned to meet with Philippine officials in Manila on Friday and Saturday. It was to be the last stop in a Southeast Asia tour that has included Indonesia and Brunei and is moving on to Malaysia later Thursday.
Kerry has been filling in for President Barack Obama, who had to cancel his Asia tour because of the government shutdown in Washington.
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First published October 10 2013, 1:03 AM