Biden is skipping the G-20 gala because he “had a few things to get done,” 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 schedule, he came early instead 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, an administration official said, “The President had just spent a full day [of] meetings and had a few things to take care of tonight.”

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

President Biden speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the G-20 summit November 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 was not a problem.”

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

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

President Biden shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen before their meeting during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit 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 ahead of the World Forum in Indonesia, where Biden spent much time with him and sat next to him during 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.

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

President Biden sits next to Indonesian President Joao Widodo and smiles during the Global Infrastructure and Investment Partnership 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 only tested negative Tuesday morning and said the president is not considered a “close contact” as defined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Biden appears to be on track to meet his Wednesday schedule, and the White House official confirmed he’s “looking forward to seeing you.” [Widodo] at the mangrove planting tomorrow.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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