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

NUSA DUA, Indonesia (AP) — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday he has COVID-19 and is leaving the Group of 20 meeting in Bali just days after hosting President Joe Biden and other world leaders for a summit in the capital of his country.

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

In a post on his Facebook page, the Cambodian leader said he tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday evening and an Indonesian doctor confirmed the diagnosis Tuesday morning. He canceled his meetings at the G-20 and APEC’s forthcoming economic forum in Bangkok to return home.

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

The two leaders spent a lot of time together on Saturday and were at a joint meeting, but did not sit together until Sunday.

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

The Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations 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 Premier Li Keqiang and many others.

Cambodia lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions on travelers last month, and world leaders attending the ASEAN summit were advised, but not required, to continue to follow health and safety protocols.

During the summit, almost none of the leaders or other participants wore masks and all sat close together, often for extended periods of time.

Biden sat next to Hun Sen at a long gala dinner on Saturday night. They spent time close together in bilateral discussions and talks at the wider ASEAN meeting earlier Saturday. They were also both participants in Sunday’s parallel East Asia summit.

As leader of the host country, Hun Sen interacted with almost all of the top participants.

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

Hun Sen also interacted with G-20 host Joko Widodo, the Indonesian president. The two men shook hands on Sunday as Hun Sen handed over ASEAN’s gavel and handed over the rotating presidency for 2023 to Indonesia.

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

He said he feels normal and will continue to perform his duties as usual, except for meeting guests.

The Indonesian organizers of the G-20 summit required delegates and journalists covering the event to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 and have their temperature checked upon arrival. Participants were also expected to take daily coronavirus tests, although it was unclear whether this requirement also applied to government leaders.

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AP journalists David Rising in Bangkok and Sopheng Cheang in Phnom Penh contributed to this story.

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