Shoving Prime Ministers, Grabbing glowing orbs | 8 cringeworthy moments from Donald Trump’s first international trip

I think we hit a home run no matter where we went. Now we’re getting on that very big plane and heading back to Washington. I can think of no better way to conclude our first foreign trip than to spend time with you. … We will always support you. And we will never, ever forget you…

President Donald Trump said these words to US troops in Italy as he wrapped up his nine-day inaugural international trip that took him to Saudi Arabia, Rome, Belgium, Israel and Italy. Trump alongside his wife, Melania and daughter, Ivanka met with the Pope, Saudi’s King Salman, talked tough on defence spendings to NATO leaders and grinned cheerfully as he and Nigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo stuck their thumbs up.

For a trip that was largely characterised by less speeches and more body language, there were more than a few striking moments, albeit awkward that make for the memories of the trip.

Here are the top moments from the trip dissected country by country:

Saudi Arabia

The oil rich Middle East country was the Trump family’s first stop after their departure from Washington two Fridays ago. Trump inked a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi, a move that has been criticized by some members of his congress and has equally been dismissed as less likely to generate “jobs, jobs, jobs” as Trump boasted.

While in Saudi Arabia, Trump was treated to an entertaining reception by the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and was made to do the traditional sword dance. He looked mighty uncomfortable but forced a smile as Melania looked on.

The reactions to the dance were nothing compared to what the internet made of this photo where Trump, King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi placed their hands on a glowing orb at the opening of Saudi Arabia’s Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, an organisation that “aims to fight radical ideology on the internet”.

It was a fairly good photo until the birth of the memes. Here’s our favourite:


Pretend like Trump never called Brussels a “hellhole” and act like thousands of Belgians didn’t hit the streets in protest of his visit to their country. Focus on President Trump’s purpose for making a one-day stop at the country’s capital, Brussels. It was to attend a NATO summit with 27 other allies and Trump sure made the other heads of government uneasy in a tirade where he scolded them for not spending enough on their military.

Shortly after his speech, President Trump had separate seconds of pulling, grabbing and shoving a few other world leaders. The videos are a testament to one thing: Trump is such an aggressive man. Another thing? He can barely help himself even in public.

As the leaders gathered for a group photo, Trump appeared from behind and noticeably shoved Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of his way as he took the front position for the shot. According to protocol, he rightfully belongs in the front position for the photo but maybe don’t be boorish about it?

Then there was the most awkward presidential handshake you probably will ever come across in this lifetime. French President, Emmanuel Macron and Trump do not seem to be very friendly and from the account of people who were in the room, we learned “each man gripped each other’s right hand so firmly that their knuckles turned white and their jaws seemed to clench“.

Macron must have had this handshake drama scripted before the meet because he pulled another act on that same day. Macron walked toward a group of leaders including Trump and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, as he approached Trump who slightly had his hands raised ready for an embrace, he made a sharp swerve to hug Merkel instead and the world hasn’t stopped talking about it.


Days before his trip, President Trump was waist deep in controversy about intelligence information he had allegedly revealed in his meeting with Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

After meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump slipped:

Vox writes that: “But actually no one had said Trump used the word “Israel.” The reports only said that during a visit in the Oval Office, Trump had casually discussed highly classified intelligence with the Russians“.

It was whilst in Israel the Trump got his hand swatted away as he attempted to hold his wife, Melania. Considering she held his hand later and at other times during the trip, it is not certain the reason for her action.


That moment Pope Francis slapped Trump’s hand:

Of course, it’s not real! LOL


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