Biden 'to skip' Apec summit
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Biden 'to skip' Apec summit

Asian meet clashes with family wedding

US President Joe Biden is likely to skip the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit to be held in Bangkok in November, citing family matters, according to media reports.

However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said it is trying its best to work out a way for the president to attend the meeting.

Uncertainty looms over the participation of Mr Biden at the Apec summit in Bangkok as the meeting schedule clashes with his granddaughter's wedding.

The possible absence of the US leader at the Bangkok summit was circulated on Thai media outlets with no official confirmation from either the Thai and US sides. US Vice President Kamala Harris would instead travel to Bangkok to take part in the meeting, according to the reports.

They said Mr Biden would be at the White House to host the wedding reception for his eldest granddaughter Naomi Biden.

The wedding is scheduled for Nov 19. Naomi is the eldest daughter of Mr Biden's son Hunter.

The Apec summit at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre is set for Nov 18-19.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said Thailand and the United States were working out a way for the US president to join the summit.

In the Foreign Ministry's Line group application, Mr Tanee also wrote that: ''I wish to inform that, while it is true that there will be a wedding at the White House, the president sees the importance of Apec and both Thailand and the US are coordinating to find a way for the president to attend the meeting in Bangkok."

However, there was no confirmation from the White House that Mr Biden would be absent from the meeting as the Bangkok Post went to press.

The Apec summit also cropped up in talks between Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday. China reaffirmed its support for Thailand to hold the summit.

Meanwhile, Mr Don insisted the controversy surrounding suspended prime minister Prayut Chan-o-cha's eight-year tenure as premier would not affect the Apec meeting.

''What matters most is to maintain peace and stability so the country can move forward," Mr Don said.

The Constitutional Court has set Friday for its ruling on Gen Prayut's tenure limit as PM.

The suspension order followed the court's unanimous decision to accept the opposition's petition to that effect.

According to Section 158 of the constitution, the maximum term of a prime minister is eight years, but there have been disagreements over when Gen Prayut's term officially concludes.

His critics believe it should have ended on Aug 24 this year because the clock started on Aug 24, 2014, when Gen Prayut first became prime minister under the provisional constitution enforced after he led the coup on May 22 of that year.

Another group claims his term should end in 2027 because he was appointed PM under the 2017 charter in June 2019.

As a result, his eight-year limit would end in 2027.

Others argue the count started in April 2017 when the current charter was promulgated, meaning Gen Prayut's tenure would end in 2025.

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