For some world leaders, a kiss is a well-honed tool of statecraft. Politicians from Mexico to Britain have felt the warm embrace of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, while many a leader has experienced an affectionate smooch from Israeli President Shimon Peres.
But a kiss between pols is not just any old snog, and at times an approaching pair of open arms and puckered lips is a minefield that must be navigated with care. President Jimmy Carter faced criticism at home after he allowed himself to be kissed by Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in 1979 -- an era before political kissing was common. And today, while a smooch seems par for the course in many countries, Barack Obama still managed to stir up a minor scandal last year after laying one on Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar --a country where kissing between leaders is not standard practice.
The intimacy of the kiss may never fully replace the safety of the handshake among the world's statesmen. But in honor of Valentine's Day, we've collected these images of political displays of affection, from the endearing to the incredibly awkward.
Above, U.S. President Barack Obama leans in to kiss a reluctant Aung San Suu Kyi at her residence in Yangon in November 2012.
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images