Of all the sights during Trump’s first trip abroad, his handshake with France’s youngest ever president, Emanual Macron, was the most memorable as well as symbolic. At their first meeting ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, the two men locked hands for so long and hard, their knuckles turned white. When Trump tried to let go first, the French leader held the shake for a few seconds more. Both men’s jaws seemed to clench.
With the handshake prompting a flurry of interpretative media reports, and on Sunday Macron told France’s Le Journal du Dimanche, that his now famous white-knuckle handshake showdown with U.S. counterpart Donald Trump was “a moment of truth”, designed to show that he’s no pushover. Macron also said that “my handshake with him, it wasn’t innocent” according to the AP.
Macron said that he wanted to “show he would not make small concessions, not even symbolic ones, but also not overdo things”.
Macron also told the French newspaper that his approach to the encounter had been about getting respect.
“Donald Trump, the Turkish president or the Russian president see things in terms of power relationships, which doesn’t bother me. I don’t believe in diplomacy through public criticism but in my bilateral dialogues I don’t let anything pass. That is how you get respect.”
Trump’s hand contact with foreign leaders has been closely scrutinized since he took power. Memorable episodes include nearly tearing out Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s arm during their first meeting in the White House which started with a bizarre 19 second handshake, refusing to shake Angela Merkel‘s hand in March, and a “clever neutralization” by Justin Trudeau during their first handshake encounter.
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