Kerry apologizes to Asia trade forum for Obama absence

"I am not in partisan or elected politics anymore, but I did spend 28-plus years in the United States Senate, and I believe that those standing in the way in the other body of the Congress, standing in the way of reopening our government, need to think long and hard about the message that we send to the world when we can't get our own act together," Kerry said.

The president had originally been scheduled to take an eight-day, four-nation trip that would have included a stop at the trade conference.

The secretary of State also sought to reassure American allies and trading partners that the government shutdown was not cause for concern.

"Do not mistake this momentary episode in American politics as anything less than a moment of politics, or anything more than a moment of politics," Kerry said.

At the same time, Kerry acknowledged that the shutdown was taking a toll on American diplomatic efforts. 

"For instance, our security assistance for Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, is being delayed," Kerry said. "The new fiscal year started this last week, but because of the shutdown, some entities don't have the funding that they need, including supporting the peacekeeping mission in the Sinai, at a time of growing unrest in a critical area."

Last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the cancellation of the trip was "another consequence of the House Republicans’ decision to force a shutdown of the government."