Round by round: what Angela Merkel can learn from other leaders’ Trump sparring

The German chancellors first visit to Trumps White House on Friday promises to be awkward judging by the experience of May, Abe, Trudeau, Netanyahu and Kenny

What sort of fireworks might erupt when the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, fulfils Donald Trump for the first time at the White House on Friday?

If visits by foreign leaders to the White House so far are any guide, it will be awkward, and perhaps embarrassing.

The British prime minister, Theresa May, has the distinction of being the first foreign leader to have visited Trump, with Shinz Abe of Japan, Justin Trudeau of Canada, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Enda Kenny of Ireland following closely at her heels. Each of those trip-ups was uncomfortable in its own unique way, but site visits did share a basic format.

Merkel can expect to undergo a meet-and-greet with Trump in the Oval Office, with a photo opportunity; a private bilateral meeting with Trump; and, eventually, a joint press conference.( Abe, like Trump an avid golfer, went in for the premium package, spending the whole weekend with the first household at Mar-a-Lago, the presidents private Florida resort. Kenny, by contrast, got the basic package, which included a luncheon but not a press conference .)

For a closer look at what Merkel might be in for, weve broken down the previous trip-ups by foreign leaders to the White House round by round. And weve proclaimed a win for each round, based on who handled Trump best.

Round 1: Pleased to meet you

To greet a peer, the custom in much of the world is to shake hands. Regrettably, Trump has a highly idiosyncratic handshake that is often visibly uncomfortable for the other person. And its not only his handshake. But lets go to the tapes.

May

What happened : They held hands.

Tell me more : Walking in the West Wing colonnade alongside May, Trump grabbed her hand and held it for awhile before patting it twice and letting it go. She kept a poker face. An anonymous White House source spread the word afterward that Trump, 70, is afraid of slopes and stairs and that the pair had to walk down a slope, so he reached out for her. But others indicated it simply looked like he grabbed her because he could.

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