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Did Trump avoid shaking Merkel’s hand in the Oval Office?

No one was expecting President Trump to get along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as former President Barack Obama did.

But the first meeting between the two world leaders was, well, a little awkward. The press was brought into the Oval Office where Merkel was seated alongside Trump Friday afternoon, and the two leaders gave only perfunctory answers to shouted questions from the media.

Just before the media was escorted out, several reporters shouted “handshake,” and Merkel quietly asked Trump if he would like to shake hands. Trump did not respond, but instead looked ahead with his hands clasped.

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It was not clear whether Trump could hear Merkel over the din of the room.

German weekly Der Spiegel commented that ‘‘the overall impression of this meeting was rather cool.’’ German daily Bild wrote on its website: ‘‘Trump didn’t want to give Merkel his hand in his office!’’

Both leaders smiled at the outset of their Oval Office meeting, but Trump’s past remarks about Merkel loomed large as the German leader’s visit to the US approached this week.

Trump famously criticized Merkel on a number of issues throughout the presidential campaign. He accused her of “ruining Germany” by accepting Syrian refugees and frequently called Democratic rival Hillary Clinton “America’s Angela Merkel.”

It’s a sharp contrast from the relationship between Merkel and Trump’s predecessor. Obama was full of praise for Merkel as he left office, calling her leadership of Germany a model for the world.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.