June 27th, 2012
08:59 AM ET

When a handshake is not just a handshake

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II shook hands Wednesday with former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in a historic gesture marking an advance in the peace process around British rule of Northern Ireland.

The handshake comes 14 years after the end of a conflict that claimed about 3,500 lives and illustrates one example of when a handshake is more than just a handshake.

A few other handy examples in the history books:

• In 1972, on his trip to China, U.S. President Richard Nixon shook hands with Mao Zedong, in a first step toward better relations between the two countries.

• Thirteen years later, in Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. President Ronald Reagan did the same with another Communist leader: Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. The two leaders were seeking common ground on arms reduction and other issues.

• Then, there was a historic moment in 1990. South African President F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela shook hands in an iconic moment on the path to end apartheid.

• And finally: Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat famously shook hands at the White House in 1993. The two were later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts in Mideast peace negotiations.

What do you think? What are other instances throughout history when a handshake was more than a handshake? Share your comments below.

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Topics: Diplomacy

soundoff (153 Responses)
  1. Medhat

    The most important one and most watched in history, President Anwar El Sadat Hand shakes to all Israel's Leader Ship in the most courageous trip in history in 1977 to Jerusalem.

    June 29, 2012 at 1:46 am | Reply
  2. Lee Miano

    In Kenya when the President Mwai Kibaki shook hands with the Prime Minister Raila Odinga,to end the post election violence in 2008,which claimed over 1000 lives

    June 29, 2012 at 3:19 am | Reply
  3. Lou

    Summer of 1975 – Location: Warner Bros. Studios
    A photograph captures two men in business attire standing outside of the studio shaking hands, one of them on fire. It was used for Pink Floyd's album Wish You Were Here. This, by far, is the most iconic handahake ever.

    June 29, 2012 at 8:32 am | Reply
  4. Yesduhh

    I live in the US and just accepted a job contract with the state of Berlin, in Germany. But my contract is not sealed until I show up there and only then is it 'sealed' with a handshake. In Germany, it seems, a handshake is still a formality that carries some respect.

    July 2, 2012 at 9:52 am | Reply
  5. 100 % ETHIO

    When singer Michael Jackson wear gloves and had a handshake with President Ronald Regan, Mr.Regan said, "Jackson is ....".

    Mr.Regan was the famous President. He reconciled and united then the Two Germans.
    He is my favour President, just by reading his biography.

    July 3, 2012 at 8:08 am | Reply
    • 100 % ETHIO

      I do not really read anything.

      July 3, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
      • Carlos

        hello everyoneim 14 years old, ive never used grcihpas programms in my life before and i really want to learn this programm but this programm seems very complicated for me is there some other programms(free) like blender so i can start using them first so i can learn a few things about grcihpas programms before i start using blender?((sorry for my english im from greece))

        July 6, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
      • Amber

        I can't belveie I've been going for years without knowing that.

        July 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm |
      • Nuloh

        Hello I am new to blender and i need some seiruos help every time i try to use blender on my windows 7 laptop it gives me this : The application was unable to start correctly (0xc0000142). Click OK to close the application.please help

        July 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm |
  6. Gunner

    Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. "Sun-tzu, Chinese General and military strategist 400 BC"

    Sometimes good for got, sometimes good for naught. Either way wash your hands.

    July 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  7. vijanawetu

    Reblogged this on Vijana wetu.

    July 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  8. Hannah

    With all these silly wessbtei, such a great page keeps my internet hope alive.

    July 7, 2014 at 7:12 am | Reply
  9. Weverton

    I have downloaded the file to insatll blender in Fedora 15, but it doesn't insatll the program. The only thing I can do is to open blender and to work with it like a virtual program. It is not within my system and it doesn't appear in my applications. Why? What do I need to do to insatll it?

    July 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  10. Cristivaldo

    First of all, thank you for writing. When you're ready to train with me, plaese let me know, and e-mail to my website will put you on the list for notification of upcoming Speed-Trance classes. One of the ways to find my website is to add a .com to my screen name listed above. They will not let me post a web site link directly on here.

    July 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm | Reply
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