President Donald Trump is known for his long, at times aggressive, handshakes with world leaders. But at an international summit in the Philippines on Monday, he struggled briefly with a different kind of handshake.
Trump, in Manila, attended the opening ceremonies of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference, which began with pageantry and a group photo of the leaders. Then, the announcer intoned that it was time for the leaders to take part in the “traditional” ASEAN handshake. It’s a cross-body exercise, during which each leader extends their right arm over their left and shakes the opposite hands of those next to him.
The announcer’s instructions briefly baffled Trump, who at first simply crossed his hands in front of him.
Then, looking around, he turned to the leaders that flanked him — Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to his right, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to his left — and simply extended his arms outward, only to find that wasn’t quite right either.
Then he laughed, crossed his arms and reached to the correct sides. He grimaced at first, particularly when bending down to reach the hands of the two shorter leaders next to him.
And then, with an exaggerated smile, he vigorously gripped their hands.
Handshakes have become a Trump trademark in his first year in office. He often pulls the other person toward him and pats or yanks in a sign meant to set a tone for the meeting ahead.
He pulled Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hand toward him and then held onto it for a long time, prompting an eye roll from Abe as Trump looked away. Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron engaged in a white-knuckle handshake. And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, short-circuited Trump’s attempt at dominance, using his left arm to hold onto to Trump to prevent being pulled toward him.