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Bush cuts short Asian trip

Shanghai, China is now the only stop on President Bush's October Asian trip  

By CNN's John King and Kelly Wallace

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has significantly curtailed his planned trip next month to Asia, postponing stops in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, and traveling only to Shanghai, China, for the two-day meeting of the Asian Pacific Economic Conference.

The president had been scheduled to be overseas for almost two weeks, but now will only spend two days overseas, October 20-21.

He had planned to travel to Japan and South Korea, and to meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Beijing.

"These visits will be rescheduled when circumstances permit," Ari Fleischer, the president's spokesman, said Tuesday.

The Bush spokesman later told reporters the decision was made based on a "desire to shorten the amount of time that the president be out of the country at this moment".

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A senior administration official conceded the decision was made based on the Sept. 11 attacks, and the need for the president to "address the issues required to be addressed here at home" in the campaign against terrorism.

The official said the rescheduling was not due to security concerns.

"The president can accomplish what he wanted to accomplish at APEC," Fleischer said, adding that Bush will still have bilateral meetings with the leaders of China, Japan and South Korea while he is in Shanghai.

News of the shortened trip coincides with mounting speculation that the first major summit of world leaders following the September 11 attacks, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, may also be postponed.

That meeting of 50 world leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Canadian Premier Jean Chretien is scheduled for October 6-9 in the Australian city of Brisbane, Queensland state.

The Queen of Britain, Elizabeth II, will also attend the summit before going on a short tour of Australia.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard conceded Tuesday the meeting could be postponed because of possible military actions and the need for national leaders to be in their own countries at this time.

He said the summit organizers and the Australian Government were monitoring the situation on a "day-by-day" basis.

CNN's Grant Holloway contributed to this story.


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