Trump’s saluting North Korean general in Singapore sparks debate in US
US President Donald Trump might have scored some diplomatic points during his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12, one of his actions during the visit to the city-state has sparked a debate in the US days after he returned home.
What did Trump do?
The American president was found saluting North Korean General No Kwang Chol back after the latter saluted him instead of shaking hands when Trump offered it. This act of saluting a high-ranking military official of an authoritarian country having dubious human rights records has gave birth to controversy in the US although the White House has defended the president's act as one of "common courtesy".
But the media in the US was no in mood to see it lightly. According to CNN's Editor-at-large Chris Cillizza: "The salute is, according to military protocol, a sign of respect and mutual admiration. For the President of the United States to send that signal to a North Korean general struck many people as odd at best, and insulting at worst, to the tens of thousands of North Koreans who have struggled under Kim's dictatorship."
On Thursday, June 14, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump just used "common courtesy".
Cillizza said Trump either saluted the North Korean military general because he didn't know what he was doing since he cared little about advices on how to deal with people, including North Korea's military generals, during the summit. He said the president saluted the general out of his habit to admire armymen.
Or, as Cillizza said, Trump saluted the general because he fully knew what he was doing. He said Trump was inclined to show how friendly he is towards the Kim regime to arrive at a deal and saluting a military general from the opposition ranks was to reiterate his respect for the North Korean dictator.
" Did Trump blunder into a quasi-international incident? Or did he purposely salute as a part of a broader strategy aimed at putting the North Koreans in the best possible mindset to make a deal?" asked the CNN editor-at-large.