US President Donald Trump on Thursday (10 January) canceled a planned visit later this month to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, signaling he was prepared for the political showdown over the partial federal government shutdown to stretch into late January.
It was unclear whether the shutdown, now in its 20th day, would end before the start of the global economic meeting, which is scheduled for 22 to 25 January. Trump and congressional Democrats are in a battle over funding for the government and Trump’s long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border.
“Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. My warmest regards and apologies to the @WEF!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 10, 2019
The president had told reporters at the White House earlier on Thursday that he intended to speak at the forum but would not attend if the shutdown continued.
The cancellation quashes any opportunity for Trump to meet with other world leaders about economic issues, including trade.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters after a briefing with lawmakers on Capitol Hill that he was talking with the White House about whether he would still make the trip to Switzerland.
“My guess is if we do continue it, it will be in a scaled-back version,” Mnuchin said.
The Trump administration is engaged in trade talks with the European Union and China, among others.
China and the United States have agreed to a 90-day pause in implementing tariffs in order to hammer out a trade deal.
China’s vice president, Wang Qishan, was expected to attend the Swiss meeting, but it was unclear whether any talks had been planned between him and Trump.