President Donald Trump exerts his power with long, aggressive handshakes with leaders around the globe. However, it seems that even a man who gives handshakes as often as he does cannot get a full grip on tradition that he’s not very familiar with.

During the opening ceremonies of the Association for South East Asian Nations conference in the Philippines on November 13, the US president briefly struggled to learn the traditional ASEAN handshake.

ASEAN handshake confuses Trump

The conference usually begins with a pageantry and group photos of leaders, but when it was time to do the cross-body exercise that is the traditional ASEAN handshake, Trump got more than a little bit confused.

During this time, each leader is supposed to extend their right arm over their left as they shake the hands of those who stand next to them on both sides.

Trump, at first, simply crossed his hands in front of him. When he noticed that something was amiss, he extended his arms outward, which isn’t the correct way to do the handshake, either. When he finally figured out what was wrong, he laughed and then crossed his arms to finally shake the hands of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Trump handshakes in the spotlight

His tendency to demonstrate power via handshake has been something that the public noted about the US president. In his first year in office, many noticed that he likely pulls the other person toward him before he gives them a pat on the back.

In fact, Trump’s handshakes have been scrutinized by the media over time. Many noticed the white-knuckle affair between himself and French president Emmanuel Macron. A source of comedic relief also made news when he held on to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hand for so long, it prompted an eye roll. Finally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau notably short-circuited Trump’s attempt at dominance when he used his left arm to hold onto him, in order to prevent being pulled in.

ASEAN conference to strengthen ties

Manila is the last stop of Trump’s lengthy Asian trip, which ends with the international summit of South East Asian countries and their allies. This year’s theme is “Partnering for Change Engaging the World,” and is said to promote unity among the ASEAN member states and their global partners.

Trump’s priorities in his trip, as stated by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State W. Patrick Murphy, include the denuclearization of North Korea, the code of conduct regarding the negotiations in the South China Sea, and counter-terrorism efforts, to begin with.

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