Cambodian leader leaves G-20 early after Covid-19 diagnosis


By AP and published by Toronto Star

Nusa Dua, Indonesia — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said today (Nov. 15) he has Covid-19 and is leaving the Group of 20 meetings in Bali, just days after hosting US President Joe Biden and other world leaders for a summit in his country’s capital.

The diagnosis came as the heads of the G-20 leading economies and other nations began a two-day meeting on the Indonesian resort island.

In a posting on his Facebook page, the Cambodian leader said he tested positive for the coronavirus last night and an Indonesian physician confirmed the diagnosis this morning. He cancelled his meetings at the G-20 as well as the upcoming Apec economic forum in Bangkok to return home.

The White House said Biden tested negative this morning and is not considered a close contact as defined by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

The two leaders spent considerable time together on Saturday, and were at a joint meeting but not seated together as recently as Sunday.

Hun Sen said it was fortunate that he arrived in Bali late last evening and was unable to join a dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders.

The Cambodian capital Phnom Penh was the host of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation summit that ended on Sunday. Hun Sen met and shook hands with many leaders who attended one-on-one, some on multiple occasions.

In addition to Biden, guests included Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and many others.

Cambodia last month lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions on travellers, and world leaders arriving for the Asean summit were recommended to continue following health and safety protocols but were not required to do so.

During the summit, almost none of the leaders or other participants wore masks and all were seated close to one another, often for lengthy periods of time.

Biden sat next to Hun Sen during a lengthy gala dinner on Saturday evening. They spent time close together earlier Saturday in bilateral discussions as well as talks during the wider Asean meeting. They were both participants in Sunday’s parallel East Asia Summit as well.

As the leader of the host nation, Hun Sen had contact with almost all of the top-level participants.

On Sunday, Hun Sen met with New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and others at a separate meeting on the sidelines of the summit. A spokesperson said Ardern tested negative for the virus today.

Hun Sen also was in contact with G-20 host Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president. The two men shook hands on Sunday as Hun Sen handed over the Asean gavel, turning over the rotating chairmanship to Indonesia for 2023.

In his Facebook post, Hun Sen said he had “no idea” when he might have become infected with Covid-19.

He said he feels normal and is continuing to carry out his duties as usual except for meeting with guests.

The G-20 summit’s Indonesian organisers required delegates and journalists covering the event to provide proof of vaccination against Covid-19 and undergo temperature checks on arrival. Participants were also expected to take daily coronavirus tests, though it was unclear if this requirement extended to heads of government.


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the Asean summit in Phnom Penh and holding talks with US President Joe Biden. Photos: AP

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