President Biden made a low-key entry at his first G20 summit, as leaders of the world’s largest economies met in Rome on Saturday.
The president, among the last to arrive for the traditional “family photo” of world leaders, took his place at the end of the blue carpet platform, next to Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, the president of the Congo, African representative Summit.
Biden hailed from a distance Germany’s Angela Merkel, Frenchman Emmanuel Macron and others – but only Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stepped in for a handshake.
The US president’s marginal positioning contrasted starkly with family photos from previous summits, which almost invariably put Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump at the forefront.
But all of the leaders have been eclipsed by the arrival of around 20 medical professionals and first responders, who have joined them for a few more snaps to honor their work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Heads of state applauded the medics, nurses and paramedics as they arrived, and Biden stopped for selfies with some of the medics before heading to the main session of the day – the first in-person summit since the start of the pandemic.
Heads of state are expected to approve a global minimum corporate tax aimed at flattening international competition.
Biden wore a black mask as he exited the presidential motorcade outside La Nuova, the convention center where world leaders meet on Saturday and Sunday – but removed it upon entering the building and greeted the Prime Italian Minister Mario Draghi.
The pair exchanged a warm handshake and heated conversation before posing for photos.
Biden arrived in Rome on Thursday and spent Friday meetings with Pope Francis and with Macron, where he apologized for his “awkward” handling of a nuclear submarine pact with Australia that left the France aside.