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Obama postpones Asia trip as oil spill continues

By the CNN Wire Staff
This is the third time President Obama has had to postpone his trip to Australia and Indonesia.
This is the third time President Obama has had to postpone his trip to Australia and Indonesia.
  • NEW: Indonesian president says he understands Obama's decision
  • Obama postpones trip to Asia scheduled for later this month
  • Press secretary says Obama apologized to leaders of Indonesia and Australia
  • The trip has already been canceled twice

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama's scheduled trip to Australia and Indonesia this month will be postponed, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement released late Thursday.

Gibbs said the visit would be rescheduled, but did not say why Obama had decided not to make the trip.

The delay comes as his administration is facing one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history, with up to 798,000 gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico daily from a ruptured undersea well.

"This is imperiling an entire way of life, and an entire region for potentially years," Obama said on CNN's "Larry King Live" Thursday.

Video: Obama on hurricane, oil spill damage
  • Barack Obama
  • Australia
  • Indonesia

It was the third time the trip had been postponed. In March, Obama postponed his visit to Australia and Indonesia twice to remain in Washington for the House vote on the health care bill.

Gibbs said Obama spoke with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono Thursday night and "expressed his deep regret that he has to postpone his trip."

Obama plans to meet with Rudd and Yudhoyono when the leaders are in Toronto, Canada, for the G-20 summit later this month, Gibbs said.

"President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono fully understands the need for President Obama to remain in the United States and deal with the worst environmental disaster in the country's history," the spokesman for the Indonesian president said.

The president "himself would find it very difficult to leave Indonesia in the middle of a natural disaster -- like, for example, a tsunami," said spokesman Dino Patti Djalal.

CNN's Kathy Quiano contributed to this report.