German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump have met face-to-face for the first time. This meeting was one many observers looked forward to, due to the perceived differences in the two leaders’ approaches to policy and international relations.
Merkel, who has been named Forbes’ most powerful woman in the world every year since 2011, notably gave a less than enthusiastic response to news of Trump’s election win in November 2016, stating that she had watched the results “with trepidation” and would only cooperate with him if he respected and upheld certain values.
“Germany and America are connected by values of democracy, freedom, and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or political views.
“I offer the next President of the United States close cooperation on the basis of these values.”
Having now met in person, many have commented on what has turned out to be an awkward meeting particularly thanks to this moment when Trump seems to refuse to shake Merkel’s hand.
This did not go unnoticed by social media users who have spun comedy gold out of an awkward political encounter. Some pointed out differences between this meeting and previous times Merkel and Trump had met other world leaders.
Others took jibes at Trump for avoiding Merkel’s grip, and implied that the president might have been intimidated by her.
NBC senior news editor and correspondent Brad Jaffy simply stressed how absolutely awkward the moment in question was.
Iron Man director Jon Favreau and Harry Potter author (and Twitter Burn Queen) J.K. Rowling also joined in the Twitter commentary.
The awkwardness didn’t end there. Trump also appeared to take a dig at Germany in a joint press conference, by joking about previous reports that the US government had eavesdropped on Angela Merkel’s communications.
When asked about ongoing accusations that Trump had been wire-tapped by the Obama administration, he responded that this might mean he and Merkel’s administration “have something in common”.
Merkel did not comment on this, but appeared to give Trump a curious look.
Of course, Twitter noticed.
Even businesswoman Ivanka Trump – the president’s daughter – wasn’t spared.
With so many Trump-focused burns flying all over Twitter, others were left wishing for Merkel to spend a little more time in Washington D.C.
This feels like all the bad dates everyone in the world has ever had rolled into one, followed by a cringeworthy press conference – a far cry from the times Donald Trump hailed Merkel as a great leader. Can’t we just go back to this moment?
Perhaps this is a sign the two leaders can find common ground and build a smooth relationship moving forward. With a first meeting like this, when it comes to US/German relations, let’s hope it’s all uphill from here.
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