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Bonhomie, Superiority and Other Shades of the Trump-Kim Summit

Both Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump sought to project a sense of command as they began a historic summit in Singapore.

Updated
World
4 min read

In their first moments of meeting each other, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both sought to project a sense of command as they began a historic summit in Singapore, according to a body language expert.

Karen Leong, Managing Director of Singapore-headquartered Influence Solutions, said the first 60 seconds showed both leaders seeking to take charge in their encounter.

"Their handshake seems to be between peers," she said. "Trump seemed to be very aware of this, that he needed to up the stakes and be seen that he is the leader."

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Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room. But he also patted the US president's arm, in an attempt to show control over the encounter.

The US President, who is more than twice Kim's age, then appeared to lead the way to the library where they held a one-on-one meeting, placing his hand on the North Korean leader's counterpart's back.

However, Leong said both found it difficult to conceal their nervousness once they were seated, with Trump displaying a slanted smile, and fidgeting with his hands and Kim leaning and staring at the ground.

"Nice to meet you Mister President," Kim said as he sat alongside Trump, against a backdrop of North Korean and US flags, beaming broadly as the US president gave him a thumbs up. Trump said he was sure they would have a "terrific relationship".

With cameras of the world's press trained on them, Trump and Kim displayed an initial atmosphere of bonhomie.

Kim replied: "Well, it was not easy to get here. The past has ... placed many obstacles in our way but we overcame all of them and we are here today."

Both men looked serious as they got out of their limousines for the summit at the Capella hotel on Singapore's Sentosa, a resort island with luxury hotels, a casino, manmade beaches and a Universal Studios theme park.

But they were soon smiling and holding each other by the arm, before Trump guided Kim to the library where they held a meeting with only their interpreters. Trump had said on Saturday he would know within a minute of meeting Kim whether he would reach a deal.

After some initial exchanges lasting around half-an-hour, Trump and Kim emerged, walking side-by-side through the colonnaded hotel before re-entering the meeting room, where they were joined by their most senior officials.

The Denuclearisation Deal

The two leaders on Tuesday pledged to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula while Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.

"President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula," said a joint statement issued after their historic summit in Singapore.

Trump said he expected the denuclearisation process to start "very, very quickly". US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials would hold follow-up negotiations "at the earliest possible date", the statement said.

It however did not give any details on how denuclearisation would be achieved. The document also made no mention of the international sanctions that have crippled North Korea's economy, for pursuing its nuclear weapons programme.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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