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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Twitter goes wild for G7 power play picture 

Photo released by office of German chancellor Angela Merkel perfectly illustrates troubles at the top table

The photograph of world leaders interacting with Donald Trump illustrates perfectly to some the challenging relationships going on at the top table of international relations. Bundesregierung/Jesco Denzel
The photograph of world leaders interacting with Donald Trump illustrates perfectly to some the challenging relationships going on at the top table of international relations. Bundesregierung/Jesco Denzel

Social media went into overdrive on Saturday as a photograph of world leaders at the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canada, seemed to perfectly illustrate the painful state of affairs between US president Donald Trump and other national leaders.

The picture was released by the office of German chancellor Angela Merkel on Instagram with the innocuous caption "Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions". It’s an act of spectacular naughtiness by the Germans, who no doubt knew exactly what they were doing.

It is the power dynamics at play in the photo, which some Twitter experts have said resembles a Renaissance painting, that elevates this above the usual "grip and grin" pictures common from such summits.

Ms Merkel, the most politically powerful of the six leaders ranged against Donald Trump on a host of issues at the G7 gathering, is the focal point of the tableau, aggressively leaning over the table and seemingly demanding answers of the American.

Mr Trump has, to some observers, the manner of a naughty schoolboy, smirking slightly as if being lectured about overdue homework. Behind him, his abrasive national security adviser John Bolton appears about to give the German chancellor a piece of his mind.

Elsewhere, French president Emmanuel Macron’s bromance with his American counterpart appears to be over, as he stares at Mr Trump with a disbelieving expression. The face of Theresa May, the British PM who has been wrestling with her own problems about how friendly to be with the US, is sadly out of shot.

But for many, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is the star of the picture — arms crossed and an expression suggesting that he’d rather be anywhere on earth than enmeshed in that awkward diplomatic contretemps.

Mr Trump is at loggerheads with the other G7 members over a variety of issues, including his imposition of trade tariffs on steel and aluminium imports, his decision to walk away from the Iran nuclear deal and the US president's contention that climate change doesn't exist.