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Modi’s hug diplomacy: Abe to Obama, all get PM’s personal touch

The hugs land a little awkwardly at times, like a clumsy embrace with then French president Francois Hollande who was the guest at the 2016 Republic Day celebrations.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2017 19:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
This handout photograph released by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) hugs Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Ahmedabad airport.
This handout photograph released by the Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) hugs Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Ahmedabad airport. (AFP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in the way he is now famous for: a warm hug.

By now, Modi’s way of greeting world leaders with a hug is commonly known, so much so that ‘hug-spotting’ is now a part and parcel of Modi’s diplomatic meetings. International headlines have been devoted to Modi’s penchant for hugging

During Modi’s visit to the US, he swooped in for no less than three hugs during his joint address with American president Donald Trump. Needless to say, the hugs outdid Trump’s much-talked about rigorous, iron-grip handshakes.

Of course, this was not the first time Modi had embraced a US president -- Barack Obama was treated to hugs and warmth all the times he met the Indian prime minister during his tenure. In 2015, Modi welcomed Obama, the chief guest at that year’s Republic Day parade, with a tight embrace.

The hugs land a little awkwardly at times, like this clumsy embrace with then French president Francois Hollande who was the guest at the 2016 Republic Day celebrations.

Francois Hollande gets a hug from Narendra Modi ahead of the 2016 Republic Day celebrations in Delhi.

Modi continued this tradition, hugging newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron on his visit to Paris, where they met to discuss mutual interests, including ways to counter terrorism and climate change.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs French President Emmanuel Macron as they attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. (AP)

An effusive embrace has become the prime minister’s signature move to greet world leaders. During his visit to St Petersburg this June, Modi and Putin hugged in a show of solidarity. Images captured at other diplomatic meetings assert the same truth, that the Indian prime minister never shies away from a good, tight hug.

In this June 2, 2017, file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hug in St. Petersburg, Russia. (AP)
Narendra Modi and Australian PM Tony Abbott share a hug at the G20 summit. (AFP photo)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) after exchange of agreements at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India on May 1, 2017. (Sonu Mehta/HT PHOTO)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugs Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as he receives him at the airport in New Delhi, India, ahead of this year’s Republic Day celebrations. (AP)

The prime minister’s bear hugs are not reserved only world leaders. CEOs and celebrities are included in the circle of warmth, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman.

Modi embraces Facebook CEO at Menlo Park, California (AP)
Prime Minster Narendra Modi hugs actor Hugh Jackman on stage during the Global Citizen Festival concert in Central Park, New York. (Reuters)