• From Melania to Merkel: Five telltale G20 moments


    HAMBURG: From US First Lady Melania Trump’s travails to the reserved German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s facial twitches, here are some of the anecdotal moments that livened up this year’s G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg.

    Bad day for Melania

    US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump arrive for a concert at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany on Friday.

    US First Lady Melania Trump was due to go on a cruise tour with other spouses of G20 leaders, but was instead trapped at her residence as anti-globalization demonstrators went on the rampage, smashing shop windows and burning cars.

    She finally emerged. But her husband Donald was locked in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “There are so many issues on the table… Just about everything got touched upon… Neither one of them wanted to stop” talking, said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    “I believe they even sent in the First Lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, but that didn’t work either… We did another hour. Clearly she failed!” he added.

    Ivanka steps in

    For a moment at the G20 summit Saturday the United States was represented by another Trump, when the president’s daughter Ivanka took a seat at the table of world leaders.

    The 35-year-old former fashion model sat around the table with Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Angela Merkel and Theresa May, diplomats and the White House confirmed.

    (L-R) Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, US President Donald Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose as they attend a panel discussion titled “Launch Event Women’s Entrepreneur Finance Initiative” during the G20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany on Saturday. AFP PHOTO

    Ivanka had been at the back of the room but “briefly joined the main table when the president had to step out,” a White House official told Agence France-Presse.

    That quickly sparked an storm, with historian Anne Applebaum slamming what she called “an unelected, unqualified, unprepared New York socialite” being seen as “the best person to represent American national interests.”

    Macron warms up to Trump

    If a video of France’s President Emmanuel Macron swerving away from Trump to greet other leaders was a key image trending on social media sites during a NATO summit earlier this year, at the G20, there appears to have been a clear rapprochement between the young leader and the US property tycoon.

    Macron was firmly at Trump’s side at key “family photo” sessions of the leaders. He even inserted himself to the far right of the entire group at one photography session, saving the US leader from being at the edge of the picture.

    At a morning session on Saturday, Macron was seen greeting Trump enthusiastically.

    The French leader leaned towards the US leader at one point, sparking questions on whether he offered him a peck on the cheek.

    But journalists at the scene say it was a more of a hug.

    Who were they clapping for?

    French President Emmanuel Macron (2nd R) and his wife Brigitte Trogneux (R) and US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie concert hall during the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, Friday. AFP PHOTO

    Trump, among the last leaders to arrive at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie concert hall for a cultural evening, appeared to be greeted by a round of applause as he stepped out of his armored vehicle.

    The US leader gamely returned a big smile.

    It turned out that the applause was for Macron, who pulled up just behind Trump, German media reported.

    Merkel rolling her eyes at Putin

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel talks to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany on Friday. AFP PHOTO

    An animated encounter between Merkel and Putin has been making the rounds on social media, with questions abuzz about what the two leaders discussed.

    Walking into the conference room, Merkel lifted a hand and traced what appeared to a movement of a projectile.

    But Putin held up a finger, appearing to then offer his version of the same gesture, prompting the usually poker-faced German chancellor to roll her eyes. AFP


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