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[Newsmaker] Harris under fire for wiping hand after handshake with Moon

US Vice President Kamala Harris shakes hands with President Moon Jae-in at a press conference at the White House on Friday.
US Vice President Kamala Harris shakes hands with President Moon Jae-in at a press conference at the White House on Friday.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is under fire in the US for an “insulting” gesture: She wiped her hand after shaking hands with President Moon Jae-in at the White House last week.

Footage of Harris wiping her right hand on her jacket immediately after shaking hands with Moon at the end of a joint press conference last Friday went viral.

Conservative US broadcaster Fox News said many Americans had become more germ-conscious since COVID-19 started, but that Harris may have made her concerns too conspicuous.

One Twitter user commented that Harris’ gesture was not only disrespectful, but would have been called racist had she been a Republican.

Another wrote, “Kamala Harris insults South Korean President Moon Jae-in by wiping her hand off after shaking his hand.”

Some Twitter users defended Harris, saying she’d met Moon unmasked in the midst of the pandemic and it was “probably just a natural reaction.”

But others remarked that it was one of the first events held at the White House without masks since Biden took office.

It is rare for a US vice president to meet one on one with a foreign head of state.

Moon and Harris said at the joint press conference that they had discussed North Korea and international health issues.

Moon was the second foreign leader to hold a face-to-face summit with Biden since the US president took office in January.

The first was Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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