World Leaders’ Small Talk: iPads, Travel Plans & Virtual Koi Ponds

By Jaketapper

Nov 13, 2010 5:00am

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports:

So what do world leaders chat about in those rare unscheduled minutes when they are gathered together before the start of a global summit session?

At the APEC summit here in Yokohama Japan, the answer is iPads, travel plans and virtual Koi ponds.

A pool reporter was in earshot of President Obama as he chatted with Thai prime minister Abhisit  Vejjajiva and other world leaders at the start of an APEC session on Saturday.

The meeting took place in a constructed bamboo forest featuring stone paths and a virtual “Koi pond” – a high-tech HD Koi pond with HD panels showing virtual fish swimming around.

“A bamboo well appeared to tip water into the fake pond, startling the fake fish, which scattered in fake terror,” the pool report said.

According to the pool report, Obama initiated the tech conversation – he turned to the Thai prime minister and asked him if he liked his iPad.

The Thai leader nodded and inquired as to whether Obama had one.

“You know, I bought one for my wife,” the president said. “But these days mostly I have someone carrying my books. So that’s my iPad.”

That book carrier would be Reggie Love, Obama’s personal assistant who is a ubiquitous presence near the president – on hand with pens, books or anything else the president may need.

In the middle of the fake forest was a “virtual Koi pond” – full of fake digital goldfish.

When Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper approached the pond, Obama shouted “Stephen, don’t fall in.”

When Harper told Obama the pond contained “fake goldfish,” Obama deemed it “fascinating.”

“There’s got to be a political story in here somehow,” the Canadian leader replied.

Earlier Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard leaned over the video pool and at the encouragement of her Japanese host, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, she loudly clapped her hands to get a reaction out of the fish. It was unclear if the fake fish obliged.

A day before their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit, Obama greeted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with a hug and small talk.

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet told Mr. Obama he hoped he would visit his country.

“We’ll try to make that happen. It’s a beautiful country,” Obama said. “Well you need to come visit the United States.”


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