It is quite customary in diplomatic and overseas circles. I guess S has not travelled much or met many people of other races. An example: It is a politeness to bow to the Sultan of Oman, that is the correct form in that society. (He is after all a royal). If you are senior enough (and even if you are not), he will likely bow to you in return. Not everyone in the world shakes hands S, there are other forms of social behaviour. You confuse formal greetings with obeissance.
Yemen's vice president reportedly lands in Aden (Reuters)
from the article: ANALYSIS / Netanyahu senses Obama's weakness on Jerusalem