Small gestures with big meanings: Historic presidential handshakes

Will they or won't they? Pundits weighed in on whether or not President Obama and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, would shake hands at a United Nations luncheon on Tuesday. While Rouhani did not attend the luncheon, the gesture would have been historic for two countries whose leaders have not met in three decades. Take a look here at past presidential handshakes weighted with symbolism.

Obama and Gadhafi, 2009

President Obama and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi shake hands during the Group of Eight summit in L'Aquila, central Italy, on July 9, 2009. At the time, the handshake was considered a sign that relations were improving with the formerly isolated country, but a civil war and a U.S. and NATO military intervention in 2011 resulted in the ousting and death of Gadhafi. Michael Gottschalk / AFP - Getty Images

Obama and Chavez, 2009

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez shakes hands with President Barack Obama as he presents his with a book, "The Open Veins of Latin America" by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, a book critical of U.S. foreign policy, at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in April 2009. To many of Obama's critics, the handshake was a sign of American weakness. Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images

Reagan and Gorbachev, 1985

President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev shake hands in Nov. 1985 at the Geneva Summit. It was the first face-to-face meeting between leaders of the two countries in six years. AP

Carter, Sadat and Begin, 1979

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat,left, U.S. President Jimmy Carter, center, and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin clasp hands on the north lawn of the White House as they completed signing of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel on March 26, 1979. Bob Daugherty / AP

Carter and the shah of Iran, 1977

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlovi, the embattled shah of Iran, shakes hands with President Jimmy Carter on Dec. 31, 1977, in Tehran. The shah was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution in Feb. 1979. Bettmann/CORBIS

Kennedy and Khruschev, 1961

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy shake hands at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna in 1961. Ron Case / Getty Images

Nixon and Mao, 1972

Chinese communist party leader Mao Zedong, left, and U.S. President Richard Nixon shake hands as they meet on Feb. 21, 1972. Nixon's visit was the first time an American president had visited the People's Republic of China. AP

Vice President Nixon and Castro, 1959

Cuban President Fidel Castro shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon during a press reception in Washington in 1959. Keystone / Getty Images

Truman, Churchill and Stalin, 1945

Winston Churchill, left, U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Josef Stalin, right, shake hands in front of Churchill's residence in Potsdam, Germany, on July 23, 1945. AP

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