Tensions were high at the G7 summit in Canada this year. Though there were few blatantly awkward moments between President Trump and other Group of Seven world leaders, one striking photo German Chancellor Angela Merkel posted of Trump has been shared widely on the internet from the minute it hit social media — and with good reason.
The photo showed Trump sitting on one side, his arms crossed and his lips pursed. Across the table, Merkel stared him down with her hands planted firmly on the table, her body leaning forward, her light blue outfit standing out among a sea of men in black and navy suits. French President Emmanuel Macron is to Merkel's right, and though his face is largely obscured, his forehead is furrowed in concern. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands to Merkel's left, his arms crossed, too, as he gazed tiredly beyond the frame. Trump's recently appointed national security adviser, John Bolton, is next to Trump, facing the crowd of world leaders.
Posted by Merkel's official Instagram account, the caption let the photo do all the talking. It was merely described as: "Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions."
It's a fascinating photo for many reasons. President Trump's newly-imposed tariffs on the U.S.' biggest allies made for an especially awkward Group of Seven summit, and his provocative rhetoric this weekend further strained relations.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Macron issued stinging rebukes to Trump in the week leading up to the summit. Undeterred, Trump continued to accuse America's closest allies of taking advantage of the U.S. "We’re like the piggy bank that everybody is robbing," he said on Saturday before leaving the summit early. Trump also threatened to stop conducting trade with the G7 nations if they don't curtail trade barriers.
Social media picked up on the photo fast, and much of the commentary focused on the body language between Trump and the other G7 world leaders.
The steel and aluminum tariffs his administration recently announced against some of America's biggest trade partners caused much of the tension at the summit. On Saturday, Trump went on a rant against the European Union and Canada over what he criticized as unfair trade deals.
"The European Union [EU] is brutal to the United States. And they understand that. They know it. When I'm telling them, they're smiling at me, like, the gig is up," he told reporters, according to The Hill. "They can't believe they got away with it. Canada can't believe it got away with it."
But the president raised another suggestion that irked G7 members, too. Trump said that Russia should be readmitted to the G7, adding that it would be an "asset" for the country to rejoin the group.
"I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good the United States," Trump said Saturday. "I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7. I think the G8 would be better."
Russia was kicked out of what was then the G8 in 2014 after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine. When asked about Crimea — which Russia still occupies — Trump suggested it was Obama's fault that the peninsula was annexed.
""You'll have to ask Obama, because he was the one that let Crimea get away," Trump said. "He allowed Russia to take Crimea. I may have had a much different attitude."
Trump continues to forge ahead with his America First motto on the world stage, damaging relations with America's allies on the way. Considering how other G7 leaders have reacted to Trump's actions on trade, it's unlikely that the tensions displayed in Merkel's photo will dissipate anytime soon.