Creepy Handshakes And The Ghost Of Khashoggi: Welcome To The G20 Summit In Argentina

The world's most powerful rulers have convened in Buenos Aires, the first time the annual forum has met in South America. And despite the Saudi Crown Prince's best efforts, he keeps getting cornered about Jamal Khashoggi.

It was the setting for leaders from two countries that don't have the most glowing human rights records to embrace each other as old friends might.

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman and Russia's Vladimir Putin exchanged a warm greeting on the first day of the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires on Friday.

The Saudi Crown Prince -- under intense scrutiny for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi -- beamed as the Russian president held his hands in a cross between a shake and a high-five, in footage that immediately went viral.

A friendly greeting. Image: Reuters

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An extraordinary exchange between French president Emmanuel Macron and bin Salman, possibly about the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, was caught on video.

The audio of the conversation is only just possible to make out with Saudi Arabia‘s de-facto leader saying, “Don’t worry,” to which Macron responds, “I am worried”.

Macron Heard Warning bin Salman

British PM Theresa May declined to discuss trade with bin Salman when the pair met face-to-face at the summit, raising instead Khashoggi's death and the conflict in Yemen.

May’s spokesman said she had stressed the need for Saudi Arabia to “take action to build confidence that such a deplorable incident could not happen again” when speaking about the murder of the journalist.

Donald Trump "exchanged pleasantries" with bin Salman, according to a White House official.

Rumoured old pals Putin and Trump shared a very different moment, with the pair caught swapping an icy glance during the welcoming ceremony.

Putin (L) stares at Trump during the welcoming ceremony prior to the G20 Summit's Plenary Meeting in Buenos Aires on Friday. Image: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty.

Trump cancelled his meeting with Putin that was planned for Saturday, catching up instead with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The G20 is a yearly, closed-door summit where global power players meet to discuss policies addressing the world’s “most pressing challenges”.

Held in Buenos Aires this year, over 25,000 policemen and soldiers have been deployed in the city to keep the swelling number of event protesters at bay.

Demonstrations are being held 10 kilometres from the two-day event and dissenters have displayed signs with slogans like "Fuera Trump" ("Out Trump").

Protesters have come out in force against the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. Image: Claudio Santisteban/picture alliance via Getty.
"No G20" reads the message on the cheek of a demonstrator in one protest in Buenos Aires. Image: Carlos Brigo/picture alliance via Getty.

This year's gathering is a major test for the member nations, which are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the UK, the US and the European Union.

The main themes are the future of work and the challenges it poses to education, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future.

One of the biggest issues is the trade dispute between the United States and China -- the world's two largest economies-- which commenced when Trump "corrected" what he saw as China's unfair commercial practices.

Both countries have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of each other's imports. During the summit, Beijing hopes to persuade Trump to abandon plans to hike tariffs on $US200 billion ($A274 billion) worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent early next year, from 10 percent at present.

There is major coverage of the event across Argentinian television, with one network -- Cronica TV -- coming under fire on social media for using an image of Apu from The Simpsons to announce Indian PM Narendra Modi's arrival.

Macron's arrival on Thursday was also subject to online chatter due to the French leader arriving to an empty runway, with the Argentine delegation not getting there in time to welcome him.

Featured image: Reuters.

Contact the author: samelia@networkten.com.au.