On Feb. 10, President Donald Trump had an awkward meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, D.C. (video below). What made the exchange so uncomfortable were not the words that were exchanged, but rather, the handshake.
Before the conference, Abe’s car nearly hit the West Wing before doing a wide three-point turn. As soon as he arrived at the White House, Trump was seen giving Abe a big hug in front of photographers.
But as soon as Japanese media asked the two to shake hands, things went downhill. Trump shook Abe’s hand for a record 19 seconds, in what may go down as the most bizarre diplomatic handshake in history, reports CNN.
In the clip, Trump firmly grabs Abe’s hand from below, while the Japanese man has a soft wrist and seems squeamish. But Trump continues to pat Abe’s hand, smiles for the camera and then turns to his handshake recipient before finally letting go.
Even more awkward was Abe’s reaction immediately after the handshake. He makes an annoyed, baffled face and slightly raises himself up from his chair.
“Strong hands,” Trump told Abe after the press left the room.
Social media has been blowing up with gifs of Abe’s expression, which can only be summed up as, “Ehhhhhhh, what just happened?” according to The Huffington Post.
The handshake doesn’t appear to have much diplomatic ramifications, but is ripe for internet meme mockery.
Other users wondered if Trump was wearing an earpiece or not since Abe conducted the interview in Japanese. Some users speculate that he was not wearing an earpiece in the beginning, but laughed when Abe made jokes in his native tongue.
“Trump has just put in his earpiece when PM Abe speaks,but yet he laughed along with the golf joke earlier without it. Does he speak Japanese?” tweeted one user.
“Zeleny said when Trump didn’t have his earpiece on, he was following cues from his aides on when to laugh,” replied another.
However, the president, seen holding his earpiece in his ear near the end of the meeting, eagerly yelled, “Let’s go to Florida!” Trump, Abe and their wives are expected to spend the weekend together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Sources: The Huffington Post, CNN / Photo credit: Metropolico.org/Flickr