President Biden made a low-key entrance at his first G20 summit as leaders of the world’s largest economies gathered in Rome on Saturday.
The president, who was among the last to arrive at the traditional “family picture” of world leaders, took a seat on the far edge of the blue-carpeted podium, next to Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, president of the Congo, the African representative of the summit.
Biden offered a distant greeting to Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and others – but only Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped in to get a handshake.
The US president’s sideline position was a stark contrast to previous family summits’ family photos, which almost inevitably put Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump at the center.
But all the leaders were outraged at the arrival of a dozen medical professionals and first aiders, who joined them for a few extra shots to honor their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
The heads of state applauded the doctors, nurses and paramedics when they arrived, and Biden paused for selfies with some of the doctors before entering today’s main session – the first personal summit since the pandemic began.
Heads of state are set to approve a global minimum corporate tax aimed at leveling out international competition.
Biden wore a black mask as he emerged from the president’s car procession outside La Nuova, the convention center where global leaders meet on Saturday and Sunday – but whipped it off as he entered the building and greeted Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The two men exchanged a warm handshake and a lively talk before posing for pictures.
Biden arrived in Rome on Thursday and spent Friday in meetings with Pope Francis and Macron, apologizing for his “clumsy” handling of a nuclear submarine pact with Australia that excluded France.