President Donald Trump had an awkward moment during the opening ceremony of Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference in the Philippines, the last stop on the commander-in-chief’s lengthy Asia trip.
Joining other world leaders at the 10-nation gathering in Manila, Trump was required to pose for a photo while performing the traditional cross-body handshakes with his foreign counterparts. It essentially means he had to cross his arms and shake the opposite hands of those standing on his either sides — sounds pretty straightforward, right?
Now, Trump has a long history of exuding dominance by turning the simple gesture into a tug-of-war and has pulled off some of the most cringeworthy handshakes ever. He either grabs the other person’s hand, pulling it toward himself so forcefully it almost seems like he is trying to tug people's arms out of their sockets or shakes hands with them in all directions possible.
So it was pretty much a given that the group handshake concept wouldn't turn out well. And there are plenty of photos to document it.
Here is Trump standing next to Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte, looking utterly lost.
And here he is, grasping Phuc’s hand with both of his with an uncomfortable grimace
At last, he figured out what to do
And in usual Trump fashion, looked mighty proud doing so
Other leaders, including South Korea's President Moon Jae-In, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, Myanmar's Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, to name a few, also performed the special group handshake.
The only one who looks fully comfortable in the photo is Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who opted out of crossing his arms altogether.
Trump has previously made headlines for tugging and pulling at Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hand for over 19 seconds during a photo op in the White House.
He tried to do the same with French President Emmanuel Macron during their first meeting at the NATO summit in Brussels, but it turned a bone-crunching standoff with clenched jaws, white knuckles and seemingly forced smiles — and Macron managed to come up on top.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noticed the pattern of bizarre handshakes and came well prepared to avoid the signature arm-yank. Meeting Trump at the White House earlier this year, Trudeau walked up to the POTUS and shook hands with him while grasping his shoulder with his left arm, this preventing Trump from pulling him closer.
Thumbnail : Reuters, Jonathan Ernst
Banner : Jim Watson, AFP, Getty Images