President Obama jokes with Buddhist monk asking for prayers on budget

BANGKOK, Thailand – President Obama joked with a Buddhist monk at the Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok that, “yes we’re working on this budget we’re going to need a lot of prayer for that.”

Obama made the remark after Secretary of State Clinton, who is traveling with him, brought up budget negotiations escalating back in the states.

Just two days prior, Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House to try to hammer out a deal on the “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts and spending reductions. If a deal isn’t reached, automatic tax increases will kick in at the start of 2013 for the majority of Americans.

“I’ve always believed in prayer,” the president said when a reporter later followed up on his comments, saying that if a Buddhist monk were praying for him he’d take the “good vibes.” He added he is “confident” they’ll be able to work something out.

It was a sign that even though he’s focusing on diplomacy abroad, the battle at home still hangs over his trip.

Thailand is the first stop for the president on his Asia swing and his first foreign trip after winning re-election.

Obama is spending the day highlighting the longstanding alliance the U.S. has shared with Thailand as he continues his international focus on Asia economic and security matters.

The president started off his quick trip visiting cultural sites, including the reclining Buddha, before visiting King Bhumibol Adulyadei and holding a press conference with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.