Light side up: Mexican waves and Putin’s ploys

Ns News Online Desk: Ns News Online Desk: For the traditional “family photograph” of all the leaders participants invariably stand ramrod straight
No G20 is complete without protests

LONDON: When leaders of the world’s most prosperous nations gather, it tends to be a serious affair. But, occasionally, things happen to lighten the mood. For the traditional “family photograph” of all the leaders — usually taken at the beginning of the two-day summit — participants invariably stand ramrod straight.

But in South Korea in 2010, they were asked to wave instead. They all looked a little self-conscious, but it was not bad for a first effort. It was not until the 2012 summit in Los Cabos that they perfected a true Mexican wave. Ever wondered how they decide who stands where in these photos? Protocol places the leader of the host nation in the middle of the front row. As for the others, the longer they have served, the closer they are to the middle, which is why US President Donald Trump, one of the new boys in 2017, was stuck at the end of the row.

In public, it is all smiles between the leaders, but sometimes keeping up the diplomatic front is just too hard. In 2014 in Brisbane, then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper paused when confronted by Vladimir Putin’s outstretched arm. “I guess I’ll shake your hand,” said Harper, “but I only have one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine.” Without missing a beat, the Russian leader replied: “Unfortunately it’s impossible… because we’re not there.”

The tables were turned in Hamburg last year, when the camera caught Angela Merkel rolling her eyes at Putin’s “mansplaining” on her behalf. No G20 is complete without protests. At the 2014 summit, more than 200 protesters buried their heads in the sand at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in protest at the lack of action over climate change.

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