BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei - With Tropical Storm "Santi" threatening the Philippines, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday called off a planned visit to Manila but promised to make the trip there later in the year.
Santi (international name: Nari) was expected to make landfall on Saturday on the northeastern coast of Luzon, about 150 kilometers north of Manila.
On Thursday, it was packing maximum winds of 120 km per hour and bringing heavy rain and strong winds to large parts of the Philippines.
Kerry, who had been drafted in to take over US President Barack Obama's trip through Asia that was cancelled due to the US government shutdown, blamed the postponement of his visit to Manila on Santi.
"Because of the judgment of our pilots and the airlines… and the approaching [storm], we are going to postpone the trip that I was going to make to the Philippines," Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit, one of the meetings in the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here.
"I'm sorry not to be there in the next day or so but the good news is, I am absolutely committed to returning in a month or so," Kerry said.
"I'm coming back to the region and I look forward to visiting… our friends in the Philippines," he said.