Secretary John Kerry (l) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bali. (Photo Credit: HO/AFP/Getty Images Secretary John Kerry (l) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Bali.
(Photo Credit: HO/AFP/Getty Images)

President Obama, citing the ongoing government shutdown, decided not to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Summit in spectacular, sunny Bali, leaving Secretary of State John Kerry to fill in for him — and leaving China’s president Xi Jinping and Obama’s best buddy, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, as the top dogs in the show.

There was, our colleague Anne Gearan reports from the scene, an awkward moment at a news briefing Monday morning by Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov on the sidelines of the 21-nation APEC gathering .

Kerry, sporting a sunburn, took a couple of questions with Lavrov, Gearan reports, then Russia’s Interfax news agency asked a question about Iran.

The question, from an attractive blond reporter, was in Russian. Lavrov, who speaks perfect English, answered partly in Russian and partly in English.

“Does she understand English?” Kerry asked.

Yeah, she does,” Lavrov replied, according to a transcript.

Okay. Gotcha,” Kerry said.

“And French,” Lavrov added after a moment.

A startled Kerry laughed along with reporters, and shot the grinning Lavrov a glance.

“What else can you tell us, Sergei?” Kerry asked to more laughter.

Best to avoid too much sun out there.