An image of Angela Merkel facing down the seated US president as he folded his arms and wore an expression of defiance, following tense discussions about international trade and tariffs – or so it seemed.
Mr Trump has offered his own explanation for the image, taken by German official photographer Jesco Denzel. He said the conversation pictured was in fact “very friendly”, though he admitted it did not appear that way.
“The picture with Angela Merkel, who I get along with very well, where I’m sitting there like this [he crosses his arms], that picture was we’re waiting for the document because I wanted to see the final document as changed by the changes that I requested,” he said during a press conference following his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
He added: “That was a very friendly – I know it didn’t look friendly, and I know it was reported as sort of like nasty both ways, I was angry at her or she – actually, we were just talking, the whole group, about something unrelated to everything, very friendly.”
The photograph was shared thousands of times online with social media users modifying it – for example, putting Mr Trump in a high chair with spilled food around him – to fit their perception of the scene.
Ms Merkel’s spokesman, however, was more cautious.
Steffen Seibert said any meaning within the image was “in the eye of the beholder” and that “other photographers captured other scenes”.
Those other images appeared to bear out Mr Trump’s claim. A series tweeted by German reporter Fabian Reinbold showed the leaders and aides including John Bolton, Mr Trump’s national security adviser, smiling and poring over documents.
They were taken by the participating countries’ various teams and give a more rounded impression of the interactions.