An Australian newspaper gave G20 leaders an irreverent welcome on Friday, with Barack Obama depicted bare-chested and in swimming trunks, Angela Merkel shown hugging a koala and Vladimir Putin wearing a hat made from beer cartons.
Brisbane’s Courier-Mail shows Indonesia’s Joko Widodo tending a barbecue, Japan’s Shinzo Abe dressed as a surf lifeguard and Chinese leader Xi Jinping looking like he is heading for a swim with a towel draped over his shoulder.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is portrayed as having just hauled in a huge fish; France’s Francois Hollande is sipping white wine while South Africa’s Jacob Zuma holds a beer.
Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who hosts the leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies for the G20 summit in Brisbane this weekend, is shown having emerged from the surf wearing only swimming briefs — known in Australia as budgie-smugglers — and cap.
While the wrap-around ‘Welcome to Paradise’ cover took a light-hearted tone, giving Obama the nick name ‘Bazza’ and explaining local landmarks and lingo, inside the tabloid took a more serious stance — devoting its proper front page to the downing of Flight MH17 and calling on Putin to say ‘sorry’.
The Malaysia Airlines flight, which was carrying 38 Australian citizens and residents, was shot down over Ukraine in July killing all 298 onboard.
The West believes the plane was blown out of the sky with a missile supplied by Russia, an allegation Moscow denies.
In a short letter to Putin, the tabloid thanks the Russian leader for visiting Brisbane but goes on: “But before the summit gets underway, there is one word the people of Australia want to hear – sorry.”
Abbott and Putin met over the issue, which has strained ties between the countries, earlier this week in China without event.
Abbott had famously vowed to “shirtfront” Putin — an Australian Rules football term in which a player charges an opponent — over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight.