Obama To Cut Short Indonesian Trip Due To Volcanic Ash

U.S. President Barack Obama is officially shortening his visit to Indonesia because of fears that volcanic ash spewing from Mount Merapi could have grounded Air Force One, according to administration officials.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs earlier told reporters aboard Air Force One that officials were closely monitoring the ash cloud and that forecasts show air traffic might again be disrupted. Experts say volcanic ash can wreak havoc on jet engines.

Administration officials said late Tuesday the president's already-quick visit will be shortened by two hours, forcing cancellation of a wreath-laying ceremony on Wednesday and causing other tweaks to the schedule.

Obama will also start a speech at the University of Indonesia a little earlier than expected on Wednesday in order to get to his next stop, South Korea and the G-20 summit, sooner.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, said that speech -- which will hit on key themes that Obama laid out in his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last year -- remains a top priority. ""We want to preserve as much of the schedule as we can,"" he said.

Two previous trips to Indonesia, where Obama spent four years as a boy, were cancelled because the president had to deal with health care reform in March and the Gulf oil spill in June."