Trump, Kim confident but body language reveals nerves at first meeting

Gladys Abbott
June 12, 2018

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un converged on this island city-state Sunday ahead of one of the most unusual and highly anticipated summits in recent world history, a sit-down meant to settle a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

"Past practices and prejudices were obstacles on our way forward, but we overcame all of them and are here today", Kim said. But he also patted the US president' arm, in an attempt to show control over the encounter.

North Korea maintains an atrocious human rights record that is inextricably linked to its weapons proliferation.

U.S. officials and the North Korean state news agency struck a hopeful tone as the meeting approached, while negotiators from both countries met privately in the last hours to iron out agreements, such as over the definition of denuclearisation and the terms under which Pyongyang might agree to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

Political figures, including Democrats, wished Trump well in his quest for a workable nuclear deal with Kim.

The face-to-face meeting was "very, very good", the U.S. leader said after the talks.

President Moon Jae-in and his cabinet watched the start of the summit before their morning meeting at Cheong Wa Dae ("Blue House"), the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

There was another handshake as they sat down for their working lunch with top aides and an exchange of niceties across the table. One dispatch by the Korean Central News Agency said North Korea and the U.S. would exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" on establishing new relations, building a "permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism", achieving denuclearization and "other issues of mutual concern, as required by the changed era".

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

Just hours after Kim Jong Un wrapped up a surprise evening sightseeing tour of Singapore on Monday, the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun crammed its front page with photographs snapped of the reclusive leader.

North Korea granted such access as part of a Clinton-era diplomatic deal and agreed to freeze its nuclear material production.

With cameras of the world's press trained on them, Trump and Kim displayed an initial atmosphere of bonhomie. This contrasted with Kim, who had comparatively less to lose, having already scored a major win through Trump's agreement to meet him.

Kim reportedly spoke in English to greet Trump but the extent of his English skills is unknown.

Trump responded to that commentary Tuesday on Twitter, saying: "The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the US, say the haters & losers".

Kim leaned to his left in a casual manner toward the US President. That could generate misunderstandings and a breakdown that risks armed conflict over North Korea's nuclear weapons.

"Bad idea", tweeted Paul Haenle, a former China director at the White House National Security Council in the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

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