Emmanuel Macron explains his tense handshake with Donald Trump

French President Emmanuel Macron said his handshake with President Trump at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, described by the press pool as a grip with "considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening", was no accident.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was quick to congratulate the new French leader Emmanuel Macron on his election victory, urging him to "overcome mutual distrust" and "join forces to ensure worldwide stability and security".

"My handshake with him, it wasn't innocent", Macron told the French weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. Macron added, "One must show that you won't make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either".

Mr Trump often seems to get the upper hand when it comes to such greetings - cue one with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe which lasted 19 seconds - and with supreme court nominee Neil Gorsuch, where the United States leader appeared to yank the judge's arm. Trump was seen pulling away at a point while it appeared Macron refused to released his counterpart's hand.

Mr Macron walks down the path heading straight towards Mr Trump, but at the last moment swerves to greet Ms Merkel, the head of the Western military bloc, and other leaders.

Macron said the moment was not the be-all-and-end-all, but a moment of truth.

During this meet, Macron pointedly turned past Trump to embrace German chancellor Angela Merkel and later shook hand with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, and Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, before greeting the US President. "Trump seems to just want his hand back". In February, Trump's lengthy handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - along with Abe's animated reaction - went viral. I don't let anything pass.

Handshakes are a very big thing to this president, writes CNN's Chris Cillizza.

As noted by Nine's Nick Pearson, handshakes between world leaders normally do take an awkwardly long time, so that photographers can capture the moment. "That's how you ensure you are respected", he said.

Macron said in the interview that he believed he could establish a "cordial relationship" with Trump.

  • Zachary Reyes