Mike Pence cuts short Hawaii trip to deal with domestic priorities

US Vice President Mike Pence waving before boarding an aircraft departing Sydney International Airport in Australia on April 24, 2017.
US Vice President Mike Pence waving before boarding an aircraft departing Sydney International Airport in Australia on April 24, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

PAGO, American Samoa (REUTERS) - US Vice-President Mike Pence has cut short the final leg of his Asia trip to race back to Washington, where the Trump administration faces a critical week on tax reform and a funding plan to keep the government running, an aide said on Sunday (April 23).

Pence, who has been travelling in Asia to reassure allies and partners about President Donald Trump's commitment to the region, had originally planned to spend two nights in Honolulu at the end of a trip that took him to South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia.

While he spoke with business leaders in each country, Pence's trip was overshadowed by rising tensions in North Korea, where it is feared another nuclear test could be conducted soon in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

Pence will now spend one night in Hawaii and is slated to be back in Washington on Tuesday morning, his aide told reporters before Air Force Two landed at Pago Pago in American Samoa for refueling.

Trump has a busy week ahead. Funding appropriated by Congress to run the government runs out on Friday, so he and lawmakers must agree on new legislation or the government will shut down on Saturday.

Saturday is also Trump's 100th day in office, a benchmark used by pundits to assess the initial accomplishments and shortfalls of his young presidency.

Trump plans to outline principles for tax reform on Wednesday, a top brief for Pence.

While in Honolulu, Pence will meet leaders of the US Pacific Command and is also slated to speak to US troops and their families, the aide said.

He had planned to tour the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbour but will no longer do that, the aide said.