Global leaders hunkered down for what threatened to be a fractious two-day summit in Buenos Aires with deep disagreements evident over world trade and climate change.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Here are five moments from the first day of the summit Friday:
– That handshake –
All eyes were on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and how his fellow leaders would greet him in the wake of the murder and dismembering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country’s Istanbul consulate. He mingled with the others easily enough and received a resounding handshake from Vladimir Putin — also under a cloud for over his country’s naval spat with Ukraine — as the two men laughed off their troubles.
More bizarre still was his conversation later with Emmanuel Macron, filmed by the prince’s aide and put out on Twitter. The French president appeared to be taking him to task about something.
“Don’t worry,” Prince Mohammed is heard saying in English to the French leader, who responds, “I do worry. I am worried.” But it received wide traction on social media, with Macron telling the prince, “You never listen to me,” to which Prince Mohammed replies, “I will listen, of course.”
– Drafting diplomacy, Putin style –
During a meeting with Macron, Putin was said by a French aide to have drawn a map of the Kerch Strait off Crimea to buttress his position that the Ukrainian ships his navy seized on Sunday had intruded into Russian waters — a claim denied by Kiev.
“Putin took out a sheet of paper and sketched out the sea and the strait and tried to explain to the president the route the Ukrainian ships had taken through neutral, then territorial, waters,” the bemused aide said.
– What’s in a name?-
With the dark threat of a worsening trade war overshadowing the summit, the US, Canada and Mexico could point to a resounding success on day one, signing a new and improved NAFTA agreement, though the trade bloc can’t seem to agree on what to call it.
The US steadfastly refers to the deal on its official documents as the USMCA (US-Mexico-Canada agreement), the Mexicans call it TMEC, while the Canadians turn the initials right around and call it CUSMA. With each country putting its own initials first, it does not augur well for the new pact.
– Macri’s tears –
It was a tired and emotional Mauricio Macri who hosted his guests at a musical extravaganza in the sumptuous old Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires.
The resounding finale from the dancers on stage drew the audience to their feet, with rhythmic chants of “Argentina, Argentina,” moved by the display of their country’s cultural richness. A fiercely proud Macri was overcome, tears spilling down his face, in the dignitaries’ box. First Lady Juliana Awada and Angela Merkel each gave him a comforting pat on the back.
Earlier, tens of thousands of protesters had taken to the streets to demonstrate against Macri’s government spending millions on hosting the G20 while his country is stumbling through a crippling economic crisis.
– Trump ever a winner –
After Trump’s shock 2016 victory, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quickly mobilized to build warm ties with the real estate tycoon, but his flattery during their latest meeting raised eyebrows.
“I would like to congratulate you on your historic victory in the midterm election in the United States,” Abe told him.
Trump’s Republican Party lost 40 seats in the House of Representatives on November 6, with control swinging to the Democrats, dooming much of the president’s legislative agenda.
With the Republicans maintaining the Senate, Trump, who is not known for humility, has cast his election as a victory by historic standards for a midterm president.