Biden is skipping the G-20 gala because he “had a few things to take care of,” an official says

President Biden unexpectedly skipped the G-20 gala in Indonesia on Tuesday and returned to his hotel room early for the night.

Although dinner was on the president’s public agenda today, he went to bed early after a long day of meetings and events.

It’s unclear exactly why Biden didn’t attend the gala, but according to the White House press pool, one administration official said, “The president had just spent an entire day [of] meetings and had to deal with a few things tonight.”

President Biden speaks at a press conference on the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting on Nov. 14 in Bali, Indonesia.

President Biden speaks at a press conference on the sidelines of the G-20 summit meeting on Nov. 14 in Bali, Indonesia.
(AP/Alex Brandon)

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The spokesman said Biden spoke to Indonesian President Joko Widodo about his regret at not attending the dinner, who reportedly told Biden “it wasn’t a big deal”.

The White House official noted that the “items” in question were “not urgent,” though his absence comes after being photographed with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who tested positive for COVID on Monday.

President Biden shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of their meeting at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit on Saturday, November 12, 2022 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

President Biden shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of their meeting at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit on Saturday, November 12, 2022 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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The Cambodian leader hosted Biden and other world leaders at a summit in the capital Phnom Penh over the weekend leading up to the world forum in Indonesia, where Biden spent a lot of time with him and sat next to him at a Saturday event.

Hun Sen said he first tested positive on Monday and was confirmed by an Indonesian doctor on Tuesday that he had contracted the infectious disease.

Seated next to Indonesian President Joao Widodo, President Biden smiles during the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment meeting at the G-20 summit, Tuesday, November 15, 2022, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.

Seated next to Indonesian President Joao Widodo, President Biden smiles during the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment meeting at the G-20 summit, Tuesday, November 15, 2022, in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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The White House said Biden still tested negative Tuesday morning and said the president is not considered a “close contact” as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden appears to be on track to follow his Wednesday schedule and the White House official confirmed he is “looking forward to [Widodo] tomorrow at the mangrove plantation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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