Edited video sparks false claims Joe Biden snubbed Rishi Sunak

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Social media users are claiming a video of US President Joe Biden's arrival in Belfast on April 11, 2023 shows him failing to recognize and shoving aside British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. This is false; the claims are based on an edited clip, which cut out seconds of footage that shows the two leaders shaking hands and exchanging words.

"Arriving in Belfast, the Biden did not recognize the Prime Minister of Great Britain and pushed the 'boy' away to salute the gray-haired military man," says an April 12, 2023 post from "Spriter," a Twitter account that has previously posted misinformation about the war in Ukraine. The 16-second video received more than 2.3 million views.

"This owns. When greeted at the airport, Joe Biden shoves British PM Rishi Sunak aside to salute a random white guy," says another post sharing the clip from conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong.

Screenshot from Twitter taken April 13, 2023
Screenshot from Twitter taken April 13, 2023



Similar posts racked up views across Twitter and other platforms such as TikTok, spreading as the US president continued an overseas tour in Ireland.

But the allegations that Biden snubbed Sunak as he touched down in Northern Ireland are false, based on a video that was edited to skip over the greeting and handshake between the two men.

"The footage was dishonestly manipulated," White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said in an April 13 email to AFP.

The version of the video fueling the claims that Biden did not recognize Sunak comes from footage of Biden's arrival on Sky News's YouTube channel, with edits that omit their full greeting.

But Sky News published another video on its website that shows the leaders' complete exchange, in which Biden shakes Sunak's hand and speaks to him for a few seconds before acknowledging others on the tarmac. The headline attached to the video reads, "US president Joe Biden and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak shake hands."

The moment can also be seen in a longer recording the British broadcaster shared on Twitter, which also shows Biden and Sunak conversing on the tarmac after the initial greetings.

Footage of the leaders' greeting was published by other outlets including C-SPAN. AFP also captured photos and video of Biden's arrival.

Biden and Sunak have previously met on several occasions including in California in March. They met again in Belfast on April 12, after which Sunak said the relationship between their two nations was "in great shape."

AFP has previously debunked other misinformation about Biden's travels, including here and here.