President Biden made a low-key entrance at his first G20 summit, as the leaders of the world’s largest economies gathered Saturday in Rome.
The president, among the last to arrive for the traditional “family photo” of world leaders, took a place at the far edge of the blue-carpeted dais, next to Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi, the president of Congo, the summit’s African representative.
Biden offered a distant salute to Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron, and others — but only Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, moved in for a handshake.
The sidelined positioning for the American president was a stark contrast to past summits’ family photos, which almost invariably placed Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump front and center.
But all of the leaders were upstaged by the arrival of a score of medical professionals and first responders, 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 as they arrived, and Biden paused for selfies with some of the medics before heading into the day’s main session — the first in-person summit since the pandemic began.
The heads of state are set to endorse a global minimum corporate tax, aimed at flattening international competition.
Biden wore a black mask as he emerged from the presidential motorcade outside La Nuova, the convention center where global leaders are meeting 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 chat before posing for photos.
Biden arrived in Rome on Thursday and spent Friday in meetings with Pope Francis and with Macron, where he apologized for his “clumsy” handling of a nuclear submarine pact with Australia that left France out.