From Melania to Merkel's eye-roll: Five G20 moments

Hui Min Neo, Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 09 2017 04:22 AM

From Melania to Merkel's eye-roll: Five G20 moments 1
US First Lady Melania Trump missing a cruise tour and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's animated encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin were some of the moments along the G-20 sidelines that caught the public's attention. Reuters

From US First Lady Melania Trump's travails to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's facial twitches, here are some of the moments that livened up this year's G20 summit in Hamburg.

Mixed day for Melania

US First Lady Melania Trump was due to go on a cruise tour with other spouses of G20 leaders, but was instead trapped at her residence as anti-globalization demonstrators went on the rampage, smashing shop windows and burning cars.

When she finally emerged, her husband Donald was in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"There are so many issues on the table... Just about everything got touched upon... Neither one of them wanted to stop" talking, said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"I believe they even sent in the First Lady at one point to see if she could get us out of there, but that didn't work either... We did another hour. Clearly she failed," he added.

Later that evening, Melania found herself sitting next to Putin who, having already kept her husband for two hours and 15 minutes in talks, appeared equally chatty with her.

Ivanka steps in

For a moment at the G20 summit Saturday the United States was represented by another Trump, when the president's daughter Ivanka took a seat at the table of world leaders.

The 35-year-old former fashion model sat around the table with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May, diplomats and the White House confirmed. 

Ivanka had been at the back of the room but "briefly joined the main table when the president had to step out," a White House official told AFP.

That quickly sparked a storm, with historian Anne Applebaum slamming what she called "an unelected, unqualified, unprepared New York socialite" being seen as "the best person to represent American national interests."

Macron warms to Trump

If a video of France's President Emmanuel Macron swerving away from Trump to greet other leaders was a key image from a NATO summit earlier this year, at the G20, there appeared to have been a clear rapprochement between the young leader and the US property tycoon.

Macron was at Trump's side at "family photo" sessions of the leaders. He even inserted himself to the far right of the entire group at one photography session, saving the US leader from being at the edge of the picture.

At a concert of Beethoven's Symphony Number 9, the former investment banker was seated next to the US billionaire.

And on Saturday morning, Macron was seen greeting Trump, leaning toward the US leader at one point, sparking questions on whether he offered him a peck on the cheek. 

But journalists at the scene say it was more of a hug.

Who were they clapping for?

Trump, among the last to arrive at Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie concert hall for a cultural evening, appeared to be greeted by a round of applause as he stepped out of his armored vehicle.

The US leader returned a big smile.

It turned out that the applause was for Macron, who pulled up just behind Trump, German media reported.

Merkel rolls eyes at Putin

An animated encounter between Merkel and Putin has been making the rounds on social media, with much buzz and speculation about what the two leaders discussed.

Walking into the conference room, Merkel lifted a hand and traced what appeared to be movement of a projectile.

But Putin held up a finger, then offered his version of the same gesture, prompting the usually poker-faced German chancellor to roll her eyes.