27 June 2012
Last updated at 19:29
US President Richard Nixon, on a ground-breaking visit to China in February 1972, after years of mutual hostility and mistrust, shook hands with Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong. The trip was hailed as a diplomatic triumph, as relations between the two countries thawed. Nixon said it "changed the world".
Egypt's President Anwar Sadat was greeted with a handshake by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin when he visited Israel in November 1977 - the first ever Arab leader to do so. Another handshake 16 months later sealed a historic peace treaty ending 30 years of war.
Summits between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and US President Ronald Reagan heralded the opening of a new era in relations for the superpowers. Geneva saw the first such encounter in November 1985. Here the two men are pictured at the Kremlin in June 1988, before getting down to their last summit meeting.
President FW de Klerk and Nelson Mandela - released from jail only three months earlier - shake hands in Cape Town, South Africa, on 4 May, 1990. They had announced an accord on steps towards talks on ending rule by the white minority. Four years later, Mr Mandela became South Africa's first black president.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat shook hands at the White House on 13 September 1993 - the first ever public handshake between the two former arch-enemies. The gesture marked the signing of a Declaration of Principles for Arab-Israeli peace.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, on a visit to Libya, shook hands with its leader Col Muammar Gaddafi after the country had renounced weapons of mass destruction. After the handshake in a Bedouin tent on 25 March 2004, Mr Blair said there was real hope for a "new relationship".
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to hold talks on the country's political crisis, shaking hands at their meeting in the capital, Harare, in July 2008. The move led to a historic power-sharing deal two months later.
Queen Elizabeth II shakes hands with Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness in Belfast on 27 June 2012, in what is seen as another significant moment in the Northern Ireland peace process.