NUSA DUA, INDONESIA: The US must remain engaged in the region as it plays an important role - one that no other country or super power can replace, says Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
He was speaking at a dialogue at the APEC CEO Summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Mr Lee said that despite the challenges in the US currently, it will still be a powerful nation 20 years on.
The US government shutdown and looming debt ceiling have hijacked President Barack Obama's planned visit to Asia.
Mr Obama has scrapped visits to the APEC Summit in Bali, ASEAN meeting in Brunei, as well as meetings in Malaysia and the Philippines.
Prime Minister Lee said that it was a great disappointment that Mr Obama has cancelled his trip.
Mr Lee said: "Obviously we prefer a US government that is working than one that is not, and we prefer a US President who is able to travel and fulfill his international duties to one that is preoccupied with domestic preoccupations.
"It is a very great disappointment to us that President Obama is unable to attend APEC, ASEAN, or make visits before and after that to Malaysia and the Philippines.
"I am sure the hosts must be very disappointed, too. It is also not helpful for the American political system to be gridlocked when you have to make some basic decisions on how to keep your fiscal in a state of balance in the long term and how to strengthen your competitiveness."
The disappointment stems from the fact that the US is a very important partner to Asia, and these meetings are seen as good platforms to further boost ties.
But Mr Lee said he understands President Obama's priorities and hopes the issues in the US can be resolved.
Mr Lee said: "America is a very vibrant and resilient country. Notwithstanding all these problems, I think 20 years down, it will still be a powerful country in the world, and that is good."
As part of its rebalancing strategy, the US has increased its focus on the region to tap Asia's growth, as well as the rise of China.
And Mr Lee said it is important that the US continues this engagement with the region.
Mr Lee said: "In the broader sense, the security and stability in Asia Pacific depends on the key relationships between the super powers and big powers in the region, and the most important relationship is that between America and China - it has to be managed stably and responsibly on both sides with a long-term perspective.
"And America has to continue to be engaged in this region because it plays a very important role which no other country can replace, not China, not Japan, not any other power. And that is something which we continue to encourage in every opportunity."
In assessing the state of the world, Mr Lee said that continued prosperity will depend on countries taking necessary steps nationally to sustain growth as well as working with one another to facilitate trade and economic integration.
On regional growth, Mr Lee said that China cannot be the only story in Asia.
He said: "China has launched a new experimental free trade zone in Shanghai, which is going to have more freedom for services, particularly financial services, but how that works, will be something we will be watching closely.
"But China cannot be the only story in Asia. Asia is a very big continent and the rest of Asia has also to prosper as well, otherwise it would be imbalance, and I think there will be tensions and difficulties that could arise."
Mr Lee added that Japan and Southeast Asia are also part of the Asian growth story.
Japan has moved to boost growth with a combination of monetary and fiscal policy reforms and structural reform as well as participate in the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic trade talks to open up its economy.
Mr Lee said these structural reforms will take years, but a vibrant Japan is good for the region and the world.
Meanwhile, Mr Lee added that Southeast Asia is doing quite well, all things considered.
He said: "The potential is there, with a combined population of the EU, combined GDP among top ten largest economies in the world." - CNA/ir
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