Cambodian PM scraps further summit plans due to positive COVID test

UPDATED at 4:30 a.m. EST on 11-15-2022

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has tested positive for COVID and decided to leave the Group of 20 Summit in Bali as a precaution.

Hun Sen arrived on the Indonesian island on Monday evening local time to attend the meeting of the world’s 20 largest economies and “woke up confirmed positive” for the virus despite having no symptoms, the 70-year-old prime minister announced in a Facebook post addressed to “dear fellow countrymen.”

“It was lucky as I arrived late and didn’t join the dinner with other heads of states hosted by the French President,” he wrote.

“For the safety of other delegates at the meeting, I decided that the Cambodian delegation will all go back to Cambodia.”

The Cambodian leader and his entourage will leave Bali in the evening. Plans to meet with the Chinese and French presidents on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Bangkok later this week will be scrapped.

The world’s longest-serving prime minister is committed to doing “business as usual” but won’t be receiving guests for the time being, he said.

Hun Sen hosted a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders last week as Cambodia completed its rotating chair of the ASEAN bloc and transferred the baton to Indonesia.

The ASEAN summit and the following East Asian Summit were attended by U.S. President Joe Biden, who praised Cambodia for a successful chairmanship amid “a challenging year” and Hun Sen for the organization efforts. 

The two leaders were seen close together shaking hands at the gala dinner on Nov. 12, wearing similar Khmer silk shirts and smiling.

Responding to Hun Sen’s announcement, the White House said Biden had tested negative for the virus but suffered a cold on Monday evening.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also met with Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

221114-G20-SUMMIT-ARRIVALS-HUN-SEN.JPG
US President Joe Biden is greeted by Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen as he arrives for a gala dinner during the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 12, 2022. Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Lavrov visits hospital

In another development, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited a hospital upon arrival in Bali on Monday for a check-up but left soon afterwards.

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster told BenarNews, a sister news outlet of RFA, that Lavrov had his health examined at the island’s main Sanglah hospital, but did not stay there.

The Russian foreign ministry went to great lengths to reject media reports that Lavrov, who is attending the G-20 Summit instead of President Vladimir Putin, was hospitalized.

Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova published a video showing the minister sitting at a table wearing shorts in the Nusa Dua resort area in which a healthy-looking Lavrov urged Western journalists to report “more honestly.”

The Russian foreign minister was to host a press conference later Tuesday as news emerged that the final statement of the G-20 Summit may state that “most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine.”

A U.S. spokesman said “most members of G-20 come together around the consensus that the Russian war is seen as the core root cause of so much of instability.”

This story has been updated to clarify the paragraph about Hun Sen’s meeting with a Chinese leader.

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