ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed President Barack Obama with a smile and a handshake to the Group of 20 summit, in one of the most closely watched greetings of international diplomacy.
The 15-second exchange at the entrance to St. Petersburg's splendid Constantine Palace drew widespread media attention as a potential telltale sign of relations between the United States and Russia.
The exchange was their only planned one-on-one appearance at the summit in the midst of tensions between the two leaders over Syria and Russia's grant of asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
As Obama shook hands and smiled broadly, he thanked his host and nodded toward the palace pronouncing it, quote, "beautiful."
Obama arrived in his armored limousine, unlike other summit leaders who rode in G-20 Mercedes cars.