Biden arrives at divided G20 summit in Bali as Cambodian leader tests positive for COVID-19


Cambodian prime minister tests positive for COVID as Biden is due to arrive at divided G20 summit in Bali where leaders will haggle over whether to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine

  • Cambodia’s prime minister’s office revealed he tested positive positive Tuesday
  • It came days after he hosted Joe Biden and other leaders in Phnom Penh
  • He was due to meet Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping at the G20 later in the day
  • On Monday, Biden apologized to reporters as he cleared his throat 
  • ‘Excuse me, I have a little cold,’ he said at a news conference after meeting Xi 

The G20 was already facing difficult negotiations over Russia’s war in Ukraine when a further diplomatic wrinkle emerged on Tuesday morning: The Cambodian prime minister, who hosted Joe Biden and other leaders at the weekend, tested positive for COVID-19.

Details emerged as China’s president Xi Jinping arrived at the summit site on Bali, Indonesia, and just before Biden was due to leave his hotel.

A statement posted on the Facebook page of Hun Sen said he was returning home and canceling meetings. 

It said he tested positive on Monday, before he had held any meetings including those scheduled with French President Emmanuel Macron and Chinese leader Xi.

But days earlier he met regional leaders and Biden when they attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit. 

President Joe Biden sat with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during a dance performance t the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gala dinner on Saturday evening

Hun Sen hosted Biden and other world leaders for the summit in Phnom Penh ahead of the G20

Hun Sen hosted Biden and other world leaders for the summit in Phnom Penh ahead of the G20

Left to right; Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chinese's Premier Li Keqiang and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo stand for group photo of the ASEAN Plus Three Summit

Left to right; Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chinese’s Premier Li Keqiang and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo stand for group photo of the ASEAN Plus Three Summit

Guests included Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. 

White House officials traveling with Biden did not immediately respond to questions about the impact on his plans. 

On Monday, Biden cleared his throat and apologized to reporters at a news conference.

‘Excuse me, I have a little cold,’ he said.

It all marked an uncertain start to the summit, where leaders had already decided to skip the traditional ‘family photo’ so that the likes of Biden can avoid having to smile for the camera alongside Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister. 

But American officials say the summit will include condemnation of Russia.

On Monday, Biden met with China's Xi Jinping - their first meeting since Biden took office

On Monday, Biden met with China’s Xi Jinping – their first meeting since Biden took office

The two displayed warm body language ahead of their meeting but clashed over Taiwan

The two displayed warm body language ahead of their meeting but clashed over Taiwan

‘I won’t get ahead of the final negotiations but the G20 will make clear that Russia’s war is wreaking havoc for people everywhere and for the global economy as a whole,” said the official, who spoke about the U.S. view on the summit on condition of anonymity. 

‘They will be clear that most G 20 members condemn Russia’s war and the immense suffering of this cause both for Ukrainians and for families in the developing world that are facing food and fuel insecurity as a result.’ 

However, he was unable to say what form the condemnation would take, whether it would be a communiqué signed by 11 countries or 19, or whether it would be a statement issued by the president of Indonesia, who holds the group’s chair. 

The summit is the final leg of Biden around-the-world foreign policy blast.

He was in Egypt for three hours on Friday to attend the COP27 summit, before flying to Cambodia for less than 48 to attend the A.S.E.A.N. summit.

Biden is on the final leg of an around-the-world foreign policy blitz with three summits

Biden is on the final leg of an around-the-world foreign policy blitz with three summits

On Monday he met Xi for the first time as president. Both leaders appeared maskless with entourages who all wore face coverings. 

They clashed over Taiwan, and discussed North Korea’s threat to the region among other issues. 

Biden is due back at the White House on Thursday night ahead of daughter Naomi’s wedding on Saturday. 

U.S. officials have said Biden’s trip has demonstrated that countries large and small are willing to condemn Russian aggression. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to virtually address the G-20 summit.

It comes days after Ukraine’s foreign minister was invited to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia, where it became the latest signatory to the group’s treaty of amity and cooperation. 

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