Even all the way in Thailand visiting the country’s Wat Pho monastery, the looming fiscal-cliff negotiations with Congress were foremost in President Obama’s thoughts.
The president asked for Buddhist prayers to help with the negotiations.
“Yes, we’re working on this budget, we’re going to need a lot of prayer for that,” Obama said to a Buddhist monk, who was giving the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a tour of the monastery.
Although the press corps laughed at the president’s joke during the tour, Obama had to emphasize that he remains confident that Republicans and Democrats can reach a deal without divine intervention.
“I always believe in prayer,” Obama said during a joint press conference with Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
“I believe in prayer when I go to church back home, and if a Buddhist monk is wishing me well, I’ll take any good vibes,” he said.
Obama’s tour of southeast Asia next took him to Myanmar, where he made history as the first sitting U.S. president to visit the country. Obama made it clear that his visit to the country, which recently experienced a democratic revolution that saw activist Aung San Suu Kiy become an elected member of parliament, was not an endorsement of the country’s government.
“Nobody is under the illusion that Burma has arrived,” Obama said. “However, if we waited until they arrived at a perfect democracy, we’d wait a long time.”