HAMBURG, Germany – President Donald Trump was on the fringes at the Group of 20 summit — in the leaders' group photo, that is.
Trump's position as an outlier was merely a matter of protocol based on seniority. Pride of place goes to the so-called G-20 troika, consisting of current host German Chancellor Angela Merkel flanked by the hosts of the next meeting, Argentine leader Mauricio Macri, and the last one, Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Trump wound up on one of the outer edges, between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and French President Emmanuel Macron, who has even less seniority than Trump does after being elected in May. Trump took office in January.
This time, there was no pushing and shoving. In May, Trump put his right hand on the right arm of Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic and thrust himself ahead as NATO leaders walked inside the alliance's new headquarters and prepared for a group photo. Markovic later said that he had no hard feelings about the incident, but it sparked indignation in the Balkans and went viral on social media.
Trump seemed to take his position in stride in Hamburg. At least Trump made the first row at the summit. That is his prerogative as a head of state.
Mere prime ministers — heads of government — are in the second row. And guests such as the heads of international organizations are banished to the back row of the photo, no matter how much summit experience or international clout they may have.
This time the back row was inhabited by International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde, Financial Stability Board head Mark Carney, and Angel Gurria, the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Last year, British Prime Minister Theresa May was a newcomer and similarly found herself in the outer ranks at the G-20 summit in China last year — not because of Britain's decision to leave the European Union.