Who’s in charge here? G7 power plays summed up in photos

One key moment in a two-day meeting. Five official photos. Five opposing stories

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 June, 2018, 10:40am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 June, 2018, 8:59pm

Photographs from the Group of Seven summit provided by the German and American governments suggest contrasting images of their leaders.

In a photo released by the German Federal Government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stands surrounded by other leaders as she peers down at US President Donald Trump, who is seated with his arms crossed and returns her gaze.

An official White House photograph from the summit shows Trump holding forth as Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan listen.

It is among several photos the White House sent to news media after the German government released the Merkel photo.

Ten minutes later, the French president’s office responded with a quite different view of the very same scene.

Taken from the opposing angle, the French photo shows Macron negotiating with his American counterpart, gesticulating to make a point. The other leaders have fixed him with their regard, apparently fascinated.

Merkel’s face is hidden by a neighbouring official’s head.

This would not stand, and when Merkel’s press team responded they brought the big guns.

Taken by Jesco Denzel, a photographer working the German government and winner of a category award in this year’s prestigious World Press Photo award, the German picture shows Merkel dominant.

Her fists planted on the table, she looms above an apparently nervous Trump, looking up at her and listening without response. Macron is masked by the crowd, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May invisible.

Something about the photo caught the imagination of the web, and it was the German version that went viral, popping up all over social media, sometimes in its original form sometimes altered for humorous or satirical ends.

Italian premier Giuseppe Conte’s version when it came was relatively humble, perhaps reflecting that he has been in the jobs for fewer than three full days.

He is seen from behind, clutching a document, addressing Merkel and Macron.

So it fell to the hosts, Canada, to have the final word in the war of the images, releasing their picture just after 2pm Saturday on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s account.

As befits his role as annual chairman of the G7, and perhaps Canada’s tradition of peacekeeping operations, the picture is taken from the side, impartially showing Trump dealing with his counterparts as equals.

All appear to be working in tandem to resolve their differences – albeit under the keen but paternal eye of Trudeau, appearing in the figure of a referee.

Associated Press, Agence France-Presse