- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009

L’AQUILA, Italy | In a curious sign, leaders of the world’s most powerful nations applauded President Obama as he arrived for the group photo Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Obama was one of the last to arrive for the “family photo” of leaders from the Group of Eight top economies, plus five big developing nations, plus Egypt. And when he did arrive, the leaders broke into applause — it was unclear what prompted it.

The president has been keeping a hectic schedule here, including a tour of the streets of L’Aquila, damaged in an April earthquake, with Italian President Silvio Berlusconi; a one-on-one meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva; several brief chats with Mexican President Felipe Calderon; and a long walking photo-op with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. And that’s between the official meetings.

In his meeting with Mr. Lula, the Brazilian surprised Mr. Obama with a signed jersey from the Brazilian soccer team that defeated the U.S. in the finals of the Confederations Cup last month.

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Mr. Obama got back his own at the end of the meeting, though, according to Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

“The president said, ‘I just have one more thing to say,’ and, you know, Lula puts back on the piece while they’re doing simultaneous translation, and says, ‘We will not lose a 2-0 lead again.’ And he hit the microphone and walked away,” Mr. Gibbs said. “Lula started laughing, so it was good.”

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