Five talking points from the historic Kim-Trump talks

Five talking points from the historic Kim-Trump talks
By Chris Harris
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Here is what we can take away from the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.

Following an unprecedented meeting in Singapore, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement promising to work together for peace and prosperity. Trump said he would halt US war games conducted with South Korea and was ready to lift sanctions on the North once he was confident that an irreversible process of denuclearisation had begun.


Trump said the pair had discussed, relatively briefly, the human rights situation and that he was confident Kim would "do the right thing" for his people. The deal also included a promise to return the remains of soldiers killed or captured during the Korean war.

Trump’s triumph?

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had barely relaxed their handshake when the US president’s supporters took to Twitter to hail his achievement.

Many were keen to attack those sceptical that the meeting would ever happen and compare Trump to Obama’s achievements.

Trump, who had a 41-minute one-on-one meeting with Kim, became the first sitting US president to meet a North Korean leader.

The US president’s opponents, meanwhile, asked what the difference was with his meeting with Kim and Obama’s with Cuban leader Raul Castro.

Empty words?

The agreement Trump and Kim signed contains little not present in previous agreements. The crucial pledge of moving towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula is explicitly a reaffirmation of the deal signed between North and South Korea in April and does not include the long-standing American demands that the process be verifiable and irreversible.

The language also seems weaker than in an agreement signed between North Korea and a group of leading nations in 2005 which subsequently broke down.

Indeed perhaps the most significant new pledge in the document was an American promise to offer security guarantees to PyongYang. 

At a press conference, Trump insisted that he had discussed the issue of verification with Kim and the two sides had agreed that a combination of Americans and other nationals would be able to witness the disarmament. He elaborated that the security guarantees would include an end to "provocative" US/South Korean war games.

You can read the full Singapore agreement between Trump and Kim here.

Short memories

How quickly things change in the diplomatic sphere of Donald Trump.

While his ‘bromance’ with French President Emmanuel Macron could be on the wane after his G7 outburst, his relationship with Kim is seemingly on the upward curve.

It’s easy to forget that it was less than nine months since the two were trading personal insults and threatening war.

Trump, in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, famously called Kim a "rocket man" on "a suicide mission for himself and his regime".

In response, Kim said Trump was a "frightened dog" and a "gangster fond of playing with fire".

Today Trump said of Kim: "He’s a worthy negotiator, he's negotiating on behalf of his people, a very worthy, very smart negotiator, absolutely, and we had a terrific day, and we learned a lot about each other and about our countries."

He later added at a press conference that he respected Kim for having taken over his country at such a young age but had not described him as "nice".


The forgotten man?

There was a bizarre time in US-North Korea relations when it seemed like ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman was the Americans’ de facto ambassador to Pyongyang.

But with warmer vibes coming from Trump and Kim, Rodman has seemingly less sway than he is perhaps used to.

Yet that did not stop Rodman turning up in Singapore to support the Trump-Kim summit and giving an emotional interview to CNN.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckerbee Sanders thanked Rodman's agent for his role.

Leaders' body language

Trump has a back catalogue of aggressive handshakes and body language experts were watching with interest how the first contact with Kim would play out.


They said the pair’s handshake lasted 13 seconds and that Trump sought to dominate Kim by putting the North Korean’s shoulder.

Not to be outdone, Kim firmly pumped Trump's hand, looking him straight in the eye for the duration, before breaking off to face the media.

"It wasn't a straight-out handshake," said Allan Pease, an Australian body language expert and author of several books on the topic, including "The Definitive Guide to Body Language".

"It was up and down, there was an argy-bargy, each one was pulling the other closer. Each guy wasn't letting the other get a dominant grip," he told Reuters by telephone from Melbourne.

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