He said the US Treasury department that oversees sanctions against Iran had been forced to furlough nearly all of its staff during the shutdown, which entered its fifth day on Saturday.
- Report: US gov't shutdown may undermine pressure on Iran
- US government shuts down as Congress misses deadline
- After Syria, US Congress wary of Obama's Iran thaw
This, he said, was coming at a time when the United States was trying to reengage with Tehran to find a solution to a longstanding dispute over Iran's nuclear weapons program.
"I think it's clear we cannot lose this opportunity to moments of politics, that deprive us of the opportunity to embrace larger and more important goals," Kerry said of potential talks with Iran.
The shutdown is a "momentary episode" and does not change the US commitment to Asia or elsewhere, Kerry said.
Kerry is acting as stand-in for President Barack Obama who canceled a tour of Asia, including a visit to the Indonesian resort island of Bali for a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders, because of the stalemate in Washington.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
"Do not mistake this momentary episode in American politics as anything more than a moment of politics. This is an example of the robustness of our democracy," Kerry said. But he added that if the shutdown were prolonged or repeated, people would question the US ability to "stay the course."
In his meetings with foreign leaders in Bali, Kerry said he encountered an understanding of the problems in Washington.
"In the end nothing will change with respect to the issues that bring us here, nothing will diminish our commitment to Asia, we will continue to fulfill our responsibilities and our engagement around the world and I think people are confident of that," he said.
"Everybody in the region understands ... everyone sees this as a moment in politics, an unfortunate moment, but they see it for what it is," said Kerry, a former US senator and US presidential candidate.
The political standoff over the US budget has shut down non-essential government services and appeared likely to drag on for another week or longer. Another crisis looms in two weeks when lawmakers must decide whether to increase the US government's $16.7 trillion debt borrowing limit.
Obama had planned to leave on Saturday for a four-nation, week-long trip. He canceled visits to Malaysia and the Philippines earlier this week because of his budget struggle in the US Congress and said late on Thursday he would not attend the regional summits in Indonesia and Brunei.
Kerry dismissed suggestions that the United States' interests in the region were weakened by Obama's absence at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
He said, however, that Obama's absence undermined the president's ability to have one-on-one conversations about global affairs with leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Two of Obama's main aims would have been to discuss the Syria crisis with Putin and to hold talks on a maritime code of conduct for disputed territories in the oil- and gas-rich South China Sea.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop