Thursday 24 August 2017

Indian PM Narendra Modi escapes infamous Donald Trump handshake with bear hug

The two leaders met for the first time at the White House

Mythili Sampathkumar New York

The Indian Prime Minister has escaped the infamously tense and awkward handshakes between Donald Trump and other world leaders by going in for a bear hug more than once.

Narendra Modi met with the US President at the White House for the first time and avoided the "yanking" handshake of Mr Trump, who tends to pull the other person towards him roughly.

French President Emmanuel Macron had a tense moment with Mr Trump when the pair met in Italy for the G7 meeting, gripping his hand tight for several seconds and appearing to grit his teeth in the process.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was one of the first leaders to visit the White House and cameras caught an awkward look on his face just ahead of his Oval Office handshake.

Mr Trump, who reportedly has a fear of germs, refused to shake German Chancellor Angela Merkel's hand on her visit to Washington, appearing to not hear her asking if they should so in front of cameras. He went on to criticise Germany on a number of items, mainly its lack of defence spending as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) military alliance.

He has also had awkward encounters with other world leaders, like the time cameras caught him pushing Montenegrin Dusko Markovic out of his way at the Nato summit in May 2017.

However, Mr Trump has had kind words about Mr Modi since 2014 when the Indian leader was first elected and the mood appeared to be the same during the 26 June visit, with the President saying the US is a “true friend” to India.

Mr Modi then praised Mr Trump's "vast and successful experience in the business world”.

He is known for hugging his global counterparts, endearing him to many Indian voters. The move seemed to catch Mr Trump off guard but the pair shared several hugs during the course of the visit.

"Given Mr Modi's hugging record, it would have been a very ill-informed US team that would not have known Mr Modi was going to go for [it]," former external affairs ministry secretary KC Singh told the BBC.

Independent News Service

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