The White House spokesman railed at journalists for “telegraphing some insecurities that date back to junior high,” following media reports that Barack Obama literally turned his back on Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi at the G7 summit in Germany.
At a Washington press briefing, Josh Earnest said the US President had “all the communications he needs” with the Iraqi prime minister during the annual meeting of G7 leaders, which al-Abadi had been invited to as a guest.
On Monday, as world leaders made small talk in front of hundreds of cameras during a traditional ‘casual’ photo call, a stilted affair at the best of times, footage showed Obama locked in an apparently good-natured chat with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and IMF chief Christine Lagarde.
In the transmissions from the event, Al-Abadi and his interpreter come and sit down on the same garden bench half way through the conversation, with the Iraqi leader, who was elected last year, looking longingly at the group for a whole minute. The entire time Obama pays him no heed.
The US President then rises from the bench, with al-Abadi doing the same, and pointedly looking down at his watch. With Obama still not noticing him, al-Abadi glances towards his interpreter, who raises his hands in frustration. As Obama walks in the opposite direction, the two shuffle away sheepishly.
Multiple media outlets labeled the non-encounter “awkward” and “cringeworthy”, with some speculating that Obama consciously rejected al-Abadi, following a series of military setbacks suffered by the Iraqi army in their struggle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Recently, US officials accused Iraqi soldiers, part-funded from Washington, of lacking the “will to fight”IS, which drew an an indignant reaction from Baghdad.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) June 8, 2015
Nonetheless, the two leaders held a one-to-one meeting in Bavaria later on Monday, with Obama emerging to say he was “confident” that IS would be defeated.
This article originally appeared on RT.