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Handshakes and tears: What happened at historic Trump-Kim meeting?

The key points from the summit on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.

It was the greatest show on earth — at least for a day and according to its main protagonists, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

That a global audience from Washington to Pyongyang and beyond was agape at such a once-inconceivable tete-a-tete, in the wake of threats of thermonuclear war and scathing personal insults, is not in doubt.

But what substance emerged beyond the spectacle? And what other moments were seared into this segment of 21st century history?

Here is a look at what happened on Singapore’s Sentosa Island:


After their aides joined for the working session following the first Trump-Kim one-on-one, Mr Trump signalled that things had gone “better than anybody could have expected” and something would be signed soon. That something turned out be a document, with no details provided at the ceremony, which was the first concrete development in what had been a substance-free day until then.

The contents of the document surfaced before Mr Trump’s news conference before he departed for home. It was thin on detail: the US president promising “security guarantees” to Pyongyang and Mr Kim recommitting to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Donald Trump holds up the document he and Kim Jong Un signed (Evan Vucci/AP)

What was new in that news conference: Mr Trump said Washington would stop war games with Seoul. That is of huge significance — the military drills infuriate Pyongyang which sees them as rehearsals to topple the Kim dynasty. Mr Trump said he ultimately wants to bring US soldiers home from South Korea. There are nearly 30,000 stationed there. He also said Mr Kim agreed to destroy a “major” missile testing site, but offered no specifics.

Mr Trump said the denuclearisation process would start “very quickly”; the two developed “a very special bond”; and he “absolutely” would invite Mr Kim to the White House. The North Korean leader ignored reporters’ shouted questions whether he would make that momentous journey, but Mr Trump later said he had accepted the invitation.

Mr Kim said the “world will see a major change” and he and Mr Trump “decided to leave the past behind”.

The pair shook hands and exchanged farewells without interpreters as the summit ended.


What happens next? Will the two men meet again or will denuclearisation prove to be too big a hurdle? A three-way declaration also including South Korea on formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War might be the next most plausible and high-profile development. China would need to be present as well.


Earlier at the day’s start, the choreographers and protocol teams did their work: both men emerged pretty much on cue, having left their respective hotels within minutes of each other, at the scheduled time of 9am from opposite porticos at the Capella Singapore hotel, to engage in a first handshake timed at 13 seconds.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shake hands ahead of their meeting (Mediacorp Pte/AP)

It was not on the battling alpha male scale that characterised Mr Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron’s first greeting, but it was hearty. The US leader put his hand out first, Mr Kim following his lead. Mr Trump grasped his opposite number’s right arm, and then took hold of his left arm as they turned to face photographers.


“Very, very good”, “excellent relationship”, “We will solve a big problem” – so pronounced Mr Trump in real-time positive spin. Mr Kim also rode the wave of optimism, adding, it “was not easy to get here” and that there “were obstacles but we overcame them to be here”.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un take a stroll after lunch (Susan Walsh/AP)

Mr Kim, through his interpreter, captured the parallel universe which now serves as geopolitical reality: “Many people in the world will think of this as a scene from a … science fiction movie.”

Towering behind the two leaders’ grip and grin were a striking series of American and North Korean flags side by side on an equal footing, almost interlocked.

It was a stunning piece of imagery for Korea watchers across the peninsula given the 70 years of North Korean iconography in which the US standard was the flag of the devil.


Mr Trump offered Mr Kim a rare glimpse inside the presidential limousine known as “The Beast.

Donald Trump shows Kim Jong Un his presidential vehicle (Mediacorp Pte/AP)

The US president gestured to the car and a Secret Service agent opened the right passenger door. Mr Kim could be seen smiling as the two stood chatting and the North Korean leader peeked inside.

While there was initially some confusion about what the leaders were doing, it quickly became clear Mr Trump was making a classic alpha male move – showing off his ride.


Sporting a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap, Dennis Rodman – the basketball star and one-time participant on Mr Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, and a fleeting acquaintance of Mr Kim – went full reality TV show by copiously weeping during a live segment from Singapore with CNN.

Dennis Rodman at Singapore’s Changi Airport (Wong Maye-E/AP)

An emotional Rodman said he received a call from a White House employee before the summit to tell him the president was proud of him. He claimed he had “something to do with this North Korean situation” and also took a dig at Mr Trump’s predecessor. Barack Obama, he said, “just brushed me off” and “didn’t even give me the time of day” when Rodman returned from Pyongyang with a message from Mr Kim.


From Belfast Telegraph