Trump grimaces through 'ASEAN handshake' in Manila

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/trump-grimaces-asean-handshake-m
BYNicole Hensley
Updated: Monday, November 13, 2017, 12:11 AM
President Trump scowls with other leaders, including Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The "ASEAN handshake" is a tradition the leader of every Pacific Rim ally is forced to endure — and President Trump made it awkward.

Trump scowled his way through the ice-breaker Monday morning in Manila.

He twisted his right arm over the left, and his left over the right to shake hands with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

“Give us your brightest smile,” an emcee instructed nearly two dozen politicians during the opening ceremony of the Association for Southeast Asian Nations conference.

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Phuc and Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev beamed for the customary handshake, while Duterte offered a mere smirk. The White House pool coined the contorted look spreading across Trump’s face as “an exaggerated grimace.”

President Trump scowls with other leaders, including Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte and Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

(JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)

Medvedev declined to cross his arms.

Trump at first appeared confused by the emcee’s instructions to cross his arms. He flubbed the first attempt and then settled into the kitschy ritual and laughed.

The President has long struggled to shake hands with world leaders without making it an international incident.

He fumbled handshakes with France’s Emmanuel Macron and the First Lady, Brigitte Macron. Poland’s First Lady skipped her opportunity to shake Trump’s hand — an apparent act of defiance that stunned him.

Awkward political encounters

Trump is slated to hold formal talks with his Philippine counterpart to cap off his 12-day Asia tour.

He ignored shouted questions on whether he will press Duterte on human rights issues. The Filipino leader has been waging a bloody drug war that has left thousands of people dead due to extrajudicial killings.

The self-proclaimed killer refused to attend sessions with President Barack Obama during the same summit in 2016 after disparaging him as a “son of a bitch.” 

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