WASHINGTON – Diplomacy is an art. It can also be awkward. In a very public example of this fine line, it wasn’t the warm relationship between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that lit up the reactions on social media Friday.
Upon arriving to the White House, Abe’s car took a wide turn and had to do a three-point turn in order avoid hitting the West Wing. Trump gave the Prime Minister a big hug in full view of the cameras before they went inside.
The viral moments continued during a photo op in the Oval Office, when Japanese media asked the two to shake hands.
Trump pulled Abe’s hand closer, patted it several times and held on for 19 seconds, according to the foreign press. When they completed the handshake, Trump pulled away and Abe made a regrettable facial expression.
“Strong hands,” Trump said to Abe as the media left the room.
Others on Twitter noticed a peculiar “yank and pull” handshake by the president, prompting speculation that it was a tactic:
It’s not the first time that the president’s handshake has drawn attention on social media, here is Trump shaking hands with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch:
Here he is with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:
Finally, on Friday the Twitterverse started speculating during a joint news conference about whether or not Trump was wearing an earpiece. Abe conducted the meeting in his native language. For the tail end of the conference, Trump appeared to be holding his earpiece to his ear.
All this happened before Trump enthusiastically exclaimed, “Let’s go to Florida!” Trump, Abe and their wives are scheduled to spend the weekend together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
CNN contributed to this report.