‘Awkward’: Kofod rejection of Pompeo handshake stirs attention

The foreign minister chose to pat the visiting US Secretary of State on the shoulder instead of accepting his outreach for a handshake as a precaution against the coronavirus

The foreign minister, Jeppe Kofod, on Wednesday rejected a handshake from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which stirred attention on social media.

The incident happened as Pompeo visited Denmark to discuss cooperation in the Arctic and on issues involving China.

Smiling widely, Pompeo had reached out to shake hands with Kofod but the Danish foreign minister rejected this due to the risk of spreading the coronavirus and instead pat his counterpart on the shoulder. Watch the video here.

‘Awkward diplomatic dance’
The Washington Post described the incident as an “awkward diplomatic dance”.

Washington Post journalist John Hudson, who is on the press pool to cover Pompeo, took to Twitter to comment about the rejection.

“In Denmark (which does not have a corona outbreak) Pompeo went to shake hands w/ the Danish Foreign Minister, who didn’t offer his hand back. Pompeo extended his hand to the Faroese FM who also would not shake hands. Pompeo then elbow bumped with the Greenlandic FM,” Hudson tweeted.

Pompeo’s action garnered negative comments in social media whereby a Twitter user criticised him for being “incompetent”.

Foreign news outlets linked Kofod’s handshake rejection to Denmark’s low coronavirus infection rate. The US however has over two million active cases.

The Faroese foreign minister, Jenis av Rana, also turned down Pompeo’s handshake—and offered an elbow greeting instead. This is also how European leaders greeted each other at the EU summit over the weekend.

Pompeo has not yet commented on the matter.