MANILA – After the awkward walk at the red carpet during Wednesday's opening ceremony of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Meeting, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Chinese President Xi Jinping had a brief chat during the final day of the annual summit.
Aquino welcomed Xi during the APEC leaders' retreat at the Philippine International Convention Center. Aquino attempted to talk to Xi, prompting a translator to approach the two Asian leaders.
On Wednesday, the red carpet walk of Aquino and Xi, whose countries are locked in a bitter dispute over the South China Sea, made it to the news when the Philippine leader appeared to have ignored the Chinese leader, opting to converse only with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.
The awkward walk, which lasted four minutes and seven seconds, ended when Xi entered the hall for the opening ceremony and an unidentified official approached him.
When asked why Aquino had not moved to talk with Xi and whether it could be interpreted as a snub, Philippine presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma declined to respond directly.
"It was a long walk, your question might be speculative," Coloma said.
But Coloma said the two leaders had before the walk held a "warm and cordial" conversation for two minutes, although this was not captured on video.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima also posted on Twitter a photo of the two leaders having a talk prior to a meeting with the APEC Business Advisory Council.
When world leaders meet at any event, body language and personal interactions are often closely watched as a means of gauging a bigger picture on diplomatic relations.
When Xi was APEC host last year, a handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe highlighted the longstanding and deep-seated tensions between their two nations.
Xi did not smile or speak, turning away from Abe to face the cameras even before the translator had finished speaking, and looked distinctly unimpressed.
Netizens quickly compared the pair to Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore -- Abe taking the role of the miserable, downtrodden donkey of the AA Milne novels. – with Agence France-Presse