Page last updated at 08:09 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 09:09 UK

G20 group photo attempt abandoned

First G20 family photo
Picture One: Guess where Stephen Harper was meant to be in the 'family photo'?

G20 family photograph
Picture Two: Mr Harper appears but where is Mr Berluscon and Mr Yudhoyonoi?

By Brian Wheeler
Political reporter, BBC News

They may be trying to come together to save the world - but coming together for a team photo appears beyond them.

G20 leaders had to restage a "family" pic after Canadian PM Stephen Harper failed to show up - officials denied reports he had taken a toilet break.

The second attempt was scuppered when Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono failed to appear.

Hopes of a third attempt at a group photograph were dashed.

The leaders' tight schedules meant they did not have time to assemble for another picture at Thursday's summit in London's Docklands.

G20 leaders pose for the camera

The leaders' picture gives students of body language a field day, but is also a chance for presidents, monarchs and prime ministers to appear statesman-like to people at home - and posterity.

However, even the opportunity to appear in the same line-up as US President Barack Obama - let alone UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown - was not enough to ensure they all showed up on time for the cameras.

At the first attempt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, realised someone was missing, as the leaders gathered in rows with other dignitaries including IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Occupational hazard

As the flashbulbs popped, Ms Merkel spotted an empty space next to her. The man who should have been filling it - Mr Harper - was nowhere to be seen.

Barack Obama and Gordon Brown

Once the last motorcade has left, attention will turn to what this summit has achieved

Initial reports suggesting he had missed the picture because he was in the bathroom were denied by officials.

They said he had missed the first family photo after he was pulled aside by officials to brief him on the latest draft G20 communique.

The picture was restaged a few minutes later, but without Mr Berlusconi, who was "taking a phone call" and Mr Yudhoyono.

Lost photo opportunities are an occupational hazard for world leaders - Gordon Brown missed one when he was in Chile last week.

An alternative to a third attempt at the photo might be for host Gordon Brown to resort to Photoshop - although there are dangers in such a move.

Mr Brown will remember the embarrassment caused last year to his work and pensions secretary, James Purnell, when it was revealed his smiling image had been electronically inserted into a photo line-up, despite him turning up too late for the photo-call at a Greater Manchester hospital.



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