President Joe Biden kept up his whirlwind diplomacy Saturday evening in Phnom Penh by putting on a traditional Cambodian shirt for a gala event that was attended by Russia’s notorious foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen hosted the event, held at a sprawling convention center in Phnom Penh for guests at the ASEAN conference of southeast Asian nations.
Biden sported a grey button up shirt with diagonal stripes for the event. The White House said it was a traditional Cambodian garment. He debuted the outfit inside his luxury Jazz Age Phnom Penh hotel where he is staying, and where he was spotted by DailyMail.com.
Other leaders wore similar shirts in different colors.
Other attendees also took part in the tradition – including Lavrov, who the U.S. Treasury said was responsible along with Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia’s war on Ukraine.
President Joe Biden donned a traditional Cambodian garment for a gala in Phnom Penh Saturday. Flanked by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva, second right, Biden speaks with Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Holy at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations event
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba Dmytro Kuleba attend events at ASEAN, but there are no indications he met with Lavrov and it wasn’t clear if he attended the GALA.
Biden’s gesture of solidarity with his Cambodian hosts was well-timed, coming hours after he botched remarks and thanked the Prime Minister of ‘Colombia’ by accident, with the longtime Cambodian ruler seated nearby.
A bevy of top officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined him at the event.
Biden was spotted grinning with Hun Sen, hours after he pressed the Cambodian leader of 37 years to ‘reopen civic and political space ahead of the 2023 elections,’ according to the White House.
The menu at the event included an array of traditional local dishes, including savory pork shoulder, a ‘fragrant curry dip,’ wild Mekong lobster, and steamed dumplings and rice. There were three desserts including a Palm fruit cooked in a coconut cream over hearty rice porridge.
Earlier, Biden committed the first gaffe of his trip to Asia Saturday within the first seconds of his opening remarks, when he mistakenly referred to his Cambodian host as the head of Colombia.
Giden was greeted by host Prime Minister Hun Sen. The White House says Biden raised civil society issues with the dictator at an earlier business meeting
US President Joe Biden, with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (L), attends the East Asia Summit Gala dinner in Phnom Penh
The event featured a cultural dance performance
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who the U.S. sanctioned over the Ukraine war Biden Saturday called ‘brutal,’ also attended the gala
The U.S. Treasury found Lavrov (c) ‘directly responsible’ for the invasion
Biden spoke seconds after Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 37 years and is using the ASEAN summit as a showcase for his nation.
‘I want to thank the prime minister of Colombia for his leadership as ASEAN chair,’ Biden said at the top of his remarks, stumbling over the word and moving on without correcting it.
Biden, 79, sounded subdued as he read his remarks from a script.
It was his first public speech of the event, after a marathon journey that consisted of two long-haul flights and a three-hour stopover in Egypt. Upon arrival, Biden went via motorcade to his luxury hotel. He was down for several hours, with his first stop in a hotel since departing Washington late Thursday night.
President Biden committed a blunder with seconds of his first public remarks in Phnom Penh Cambodia, accidentally referring to the president of ‘Colombia’
Earlier, he posed for a photo with his host after he first arrived at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, for an event with world leaders from around the region, plus a larger group of countries who interact with southeast Asia.
The dictator had to wait alone for several minutes in front of a blue carpet in front of the ASEAN logo for Biden to arrive, according to reporters traveling with the president.
‘Prime minister!’ Biden said upon arrival, then greeted his counterpart before posing.
Biden also goofed up Cambodia’s name as he was departing the White House Thursday. ‘Anyway, you guys, I’m heading down to — first of all, going to Cairo for the – for the environmental effort, then heading over to Colombia and then — I mean, Cambodia,’ he said, correcting himself while he was speaking off the cuff.
Biden also said ASEAN would ‘defend against significant threats to the rules-based order,’ and for the first time on the trip brought up Russia’s ‘brutal war on Ukraine,’ previewing the themes for two days filled with meetings.
‘We will build a better future – a better future we all say we want to see, we’re going to see for all of the 1 billion people in our countries. I’ll also discuss Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine and our efforts to address the war’s global impacts, including in Southeast Asia,’ he said.
Biden also held a bilateral meeting with Hun Sen.
An official readout provided by the White House revealed that he brought up several areas of tension.
Among them are activities at the Ream Naval Base in the Gulf of Thailand, where reports of Chinese military presence have brought unease.
‘The President raised concerns regarding the situation at Ream Naval Base and underscored the importance of full transparency about activities by the PRC military at Ream Naval Base,’ the statement said.
It also brought up the prime minister’s grip on political power.
‘President Biden also urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to reopen civic and political space ahead of the 2023 elections. He also called for the release of activists detained on politically motivated charges, including U.S.-Cambodian dual citizen Seng Theary. President Biden reiterated the United States’ commitment to the Cambodian people and their aspirations for a more prosperous, democratic, and independent country.
Biden’s ASEAN summit is somewhat overshadowed by the upcoming G20 in Bali, where he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, head of a rival world power that is vying with the U.S. for economic and political supremacy in the region.
He will use the event to meet with key allies to confront a series of challenges.
Earlier Biden landed here for the second leg of his international trip, with North Korea’s escalating missile launches and Russia’s war in Ukraine providing a tense backdrop to the confab.
Biden is here for the annual ASEAN summit, but the war in Europe and a nuclear threat to key allies and the U.S. mainland loom.
In a demonstration of the threat, Biden has plans to huddle with two key partners, South Korea and Japan, following a series of provocative North Korean ballistic missile tests.
Experts have raised concerns about the Hwasong-17 ICBM that North Korea fired on November 2. A larger missile could reach inside the U.S mainland while carrying multiple warheads.
From left, Philippine’s President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, U.S. President Joe Biden, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo, Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Laos’ Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh, and Malaysian Speaker of the House of Representatives Azhar Azizan Harun wave for a group photo during the ASEAN
Biden had a warm greeting with Hun Sen moments before he botched his title. The ASEAN host had to wait several minutes for the president
Biden went strait to his hotel after landing in Phnom Penh
U.S. officials are not ruling out what would be North Korea’s seventh nuclear test. Dictatory Kim Jong-un has a history of using high profile events to seek attention and gain leverage through shows of military prowess.
National Security Council advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters en route to Cambodia the leaders would specifically discuss ‘the threats posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.’
That would happen in both bilateral meetings and a three-way discussion.
Sullivan has specifically pointed to the prospect North Korea would conduct its seventh nuclear test ‘at some point in this broader timeframe,’ in reference to Biden’s trip.
‘And by “broader,” I mean we’ve been talking about this now for a couple of months. That window still remains open. Our concern still remains real. Whether it happens in the next week or not, I can’t say,’ he specified last week.
He cited the potential both for long-range missile tests and the possibility of a nuclear test.
We are also concerned about further potential long-range missile tests in addition to the possibility of a nuclear test, along with the cyber threat posed by the hermetic nation, which has been sending artillery shells to Russia amid its war on Ukraine.
Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with key allies about North Korea
It is the start of a multi-day Asia trip for Biden
Biden comes to Cambodia after spending just three hours on the ground in Egypt
The president greeted US embassy staff after he landed
‘We are in very tight coordination with both the ROK and Japan. And the trilateral meeting that the three leaders will be able to have on the margins of the East Asia Summit, I think, will be a significant milestone in the trilateral relationship and will help only strengthen coordination on DPRK.
The North Korea threat will also be top of mind when Biden sits down in Bali with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Sullivan said Biden would press the case of China’s own self interest. ‘And if North Korea keeps going down this road, it will simply mean further enhanced American military and security presence in the region. And so the PRC has an interest in playing a constructive role in restraining North Korea’s worst tendencies. Whether they choose to do so or not is of course up to is up to them.’
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 11, 2022. U.S. allies are huddling over the role of China, the war in Ukraine, and the North Korea threat
Experts fear North Korea is developing a ‘monster’ ICBM
North Korea not only menaces U.S. allies in the region. The administration says dictator Kim Jong-un is providing arms to Russia for its war on Ukraine
Kim has a history of making provocative moves when U.S. and allied nations gather
A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea’s missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022
North Korea has undertaken a series of missile launches in recent weeks. Officials aren’t ruling out a seventh nuclear test by the hermetic nation
South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol is welcomed by Cambodian President Hun Sen, who is hosting the event
On Russia, there have been new pushes for Ukraine and Russia to negotiate, even as Russia appears to have abandoned the city of Kherson, which it seized during its February invasion.
‘He will be very clear on the trip, that there will be strong, enduring, unflagging, unwavering support for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression,’ Sullivan said.
The lingering challenge posed by China is also a common challenge for U.Sl allies. Like South Korea and Japan, U.S. ally Australia is sending its leader,