As President Obama stood beneath an oak tree to greet world leaders at the start of the G-8 summit at Camp David, the heavily guarded presidential retreat in Maryland, one leader refused to smile for the cameras.
The arrival ceremony is a tradition at the beginning of diplomatic summits and is usually nothing more than a quick grip and grin for the press. Yet this time, as Obama stood sorrounded by dozens of cameras and even more reporters in front of Laurel Lodge, a green cedar-shingled building at the heart of Camp David, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a glimpse into the tension surrounding the two-day summit.
As Merkel approached, Obama beamed, reached out his hand and said, “Angela.”
She responded: “Mr. President.”
Things got interesting when Obama asked her, “How have you been?”
Merkel simply shrugged and said nothing.
In response Obama said, “Well, you have a few things on your mind.”
The interaction, which was less than a minute long, underscores the tension sorrounding the meeting where the European debt crisis will be the biggest topic of discussion. At the helm of Europe’s largest economy, Merkel has taken the lead on trying to fix the crisis, and her austerity demands are butting up against calls for pro-growth policies, leading to a fraught 24 hours at Camp David.