- Odd News
By Lydia Warren and Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 13:48 EST, 22 November 2012 | UPDATED: 14:02 EST, 22 November 2012
The president's 'historic' first tour of Southeast Asia ended with an unusual diplomatic snub at the hands of Cambodia's first lady Bun Rany.
Obama became the first ever U.S. president to visit Cambodia earlier this week, when he ended his four-day visit to the region by attending the annual East Asia Summit it was hosting.
Unlike the president's constructive visit to Myanmar, where he met with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and praised the country's progress, Obama had made it clear he was only in Cambodia to attend the summit.
Coded slight? First Lady Rany greeted the president with a pressed-hands greeting typically used only with servants
Making friends: Obama speaks with the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah as leaders pose for a photo
The president went straight from the airport to a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen that White House officials described as tense, with Obama emphasizing his concerns over the Cambodian leader's poor democratic leadership model and the country's worsening human rights abuses.
Then later Obama and Sen changed into traditional silk shirts before settling down for dinner with the other world leaders at the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh.
Just before dinner, all appeared to be well as Sen formally introduced his wife, Cambodia's First Lady Bun Rany, to the president.
Unbeknownst to Obama however, Rany greeted him with the traditional ‘sampeah’ pressed-hands greeting that is typically used only with servants.
Was the first lady getting her own back over the president's harsh words earlier to her husband or did she simply forget that she was shaking hands with the leader of the free world?
The slight may have been lost on the president and his team of advisers but would have been picked up by a great many people throughout Southeast Asia region.
Not welcome? Obama is the first U.S. President to visit Cambodia
All smiles: Obama joins (from left) Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao
During the visit, Obama said the trip should not be seen as an endorsement of Hun Sen and the government he has led since the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was in power in the White House.
'He highlighted a set of issues that he's concerned about within Cambodia,' Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to the president, told Reuters.
'In particular, I would say the need for them to move toward elections that are fair and free, the need for an independent election commission associated with those elections, the need to allow for the release of political prisoners and for opposition parties to be able to operate.'
Lead the way: The president had 'tense' discussions with Cambodia PM Hun Sen ahead of the gala dinner
Uneasy relationship: Obama toasts with Hun Sen at the East Asia Summit Dinner
who agreed the talks could 'tense', said Obama had focused all of his
comments on human rights and had told Hun Sen that Cambodia has 'much
further to go on that set of issues'.
But Hun Sen responded that concerns over human rights were exaggerated and Cambodia had a better record than many countries, U.S. and Cambodian officials said.
There was also a stark difference between the president's welcome in Cambodia and Myanmar, where tens of thousands of people had lined city streets with American flags to cheer his motorcade.
In Phnom Penh, Air Force One landed to a setting sun and only small clusters of Cambodians.
Obama shares a laugh with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key as he walks to the summit's dinner during his visit to Cambodia
The president's motorcade then drove to the East Asia Summit at the Diamond Island Convention Center, where President Obama met with world leaders including Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
The visit was the last stop on his four-day trip to Southeast Asia that began in Bangkok.
Many Cambodians also credit their leader with helping the country emerge from the horrors of the 1970s Khmer Rouge reign, when systematic genocide left 1.7 million dead.
Close: Obama enjoyed a constructive visit to Myanmar, where he met with Aung San Suu Kyi and praised the country's progress
Smiles: Obama, fourth from left, was in Cambodia for the annual East Asia Summit
During their talks, Obama also addressed holding fair elections next year after Hun Sen's
critics say they are heavily skewed in favor of his ruling party, a spokesman said.
Hun Sen also reiterated a request to forgive most of the country's debt of more than $370 million to the United States.
Last year, Cambodia offered to repay 30 per cent of the debt, which they said was a compromise as the money was used by a pro-American government in the 1970s to repress its own people.