US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a news conference at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels April 18, 2012. (Photo:Reuters)
It was a brief meeting in New York between two ambitious politicians understood to be fervently seeking top office in their respective countries.
But before London Mayor Boris Johnson could shake hands with US former secretary of state and potential 2016 White House candidate Hillary Clinton, he had to dodge an embarrassing blast from the past.
In a 2007 British newspaper column, he likened her to a "sadistic nurse in a mental hospital," remarks dug up with glee by reporters covering the gaff-prone but popular mayor's six-day trade mission to the United States to promote London business.
On the sidelines of a breakfast meeting designed to boost US investment in London's tech industry, Johnson batted aside the insult as light-hearted banter.
"It is a measure of the... generosity of Hillary Clinton's spirit that she wants to see us in spite of those admittedly light hearted remarks some years ago," he told a BBC correspondent.
In perhaps an effort to burnish his credentials as a serious politician, he said their talks would focus on the Middle East, in particular the fight against extremists in Syria, and Europe.
Johnson is visiting Boston, New York and Washington to strengthen US ties with London, but the trip is seen by some commentators as an opportunity to further his international credentials in his ultimate quest to become British prime minister.
Clinton appeared poised to win the Democrats nomination for the 2008 presidential election when Johnson took aim in a November 2007 article in Britain's right-wing Daily Telegraph.
"She's got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital," he wrote.
At the time, Johnson said Clinton represented "everything I came into politics to oppose."