Obama to skip ‘funny shirt day’

15Jan

US President Barack Obama will skip the traditional costume group photo at an annual summit where 21 Asia-Pacific leaders were due to appear in ‘Asian fusion’ outfits, organisers said.

上海性息

The picture, a highlight of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, has been thrown into disarray by changes to Obama’s schedule, which will now see him in Singapore for just one day.

He had been scheduled to pose for the group shot Saturday with other leaders including China’s President Hu Jintao, in a long-sleeved linen shirt inspired by the blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian culture found in Singapore.

However, summit organisers said that with Obama now arriving a day later than planned, the picture would be taken on Sunday.

“The leaders will be in their business suits,” they said in a statement.

Instead, the shirts by Singaporean designer Wykidd Song — featuring mandarin collars and in a choice of blue, red or green — will be worn at a leaders’ dinner Saturday that Obama will not attend.

“Had the president arrived in time, he would of course have participated fully,” a US administration source told AFP.

The annual APEC photo has seen leaders in a variety of costumes, from leather bomber jackets in Seattle in 1993 to calf-length silk tunics in Hanoi in 2006, and Peruvian ponchos in Lima last year.

Obama’s week-long tour of Asia had to be compressed after the president travelled to Texas to attend Tuesday’s memorial service for the 13 victims of a shooting rampage at the Fort Hood military base.

He was due to arrive in Japan later Friday for talks with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, before heading to the weekend APEC summit in Singapore, and then on to China and South Korea.

The Asian host nations had been eagerly hoping Michelle Obama would accompany her husband, but the White House said she would not be joining the president on the trip.

Asked about the “calculation” behind her decision to stay home, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the first family’s two young daughters were her priority.

“There are two calculations. One is Malia, and the other one is Sasha,” he told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Japan.

“She has — first and foremost — that responsibility, and being away for so long, she’s taking care of that,” he said.

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