Putin: Obama was right to skip summits

October 8, 2013

BALI, Indonesia -- President Obama got some political support from afar on Monday, when Russian President Vladimir Putin wished him well in resolving the federal government shutdown that began Sept. 30 and prompted Obama to cancel plans to travel here.

"It's a difficult situation and I think that the fact that the president of the United States did not come is justifiable," Putin told an audience of global business executives. "If I were him I wouldn't have come, probably, either."

Putin, one of the world leaders with whom Obama would have met if he had come to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on this resort island, first made a smirking face when asked by an American audience member what he thought of Obama's absence.

But his answer turned out to be a broad endorsement of Obama's choice, and a thoughtful reminder to other nations here of their stake in the domestic political impasse in Washington.

"We are all interested in the United States  overcoming this crisis," Putin said, speaking through an interpreter.

In addition to the United States being the world's biggest economy, the dollar is the world's largest reserve currency, Putin noted, adding that what happens to the dollar affects other currencies as well.

"It is important to all of us," Putin said, to sustained applause.

Anne Gearan is The Washington Post's diplomatic correspondent.
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