⚫ US President Donald Trump shook the hand of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un Tuesday morning local time, an extraordinary display of diplomacy that reflects an unprecedented gamble for two brash leaders’ intent on making their mark on history. The men greeted each other with extended hands in front of a row of US and North Korean flags — a previously unthinkable sight that reflects a new chapter in the two countries’ acrimonious relationship.
⚫ Later, Trump said his historic summit with Kim was going “very, very good” and predicted an eventual agreement on Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons. “Excellent relationship,” he said as he emerged from one-on-one talks after 48 minutes. “Working together, we’ll get it taken care of,” Trump said, positing he could “solve a big problem, a big dilemma” alongside his new partner. Earlier, Trump patted Kim on the back and placed his hand on the North Korean’s shoulder as they walked into their meeting. “I feel really great. We’ll have a great discussion,” Trump said at the beginning of the talks.
⚫ “This will be tremendously successful,” he continued. “We will have a terrific relationship.” Speaking through an interpreter, Kim alluded to the longstanding enmity between his country and the United States. “It has not been easy to come to this point,” Kim said, according to a CNN translation of his remarks. “For us the past has been holding us back, and old practices and prejudices have been covering our eyes and ears, but we have been able to overcome everything to arrive here today.” Trump nodded in agreement.
⚫ Whether nuclear disarmament is indeed the outcome of Tuesday’s summit won’t be known for years, if not decades. But the dramatic act of extending his hand to one of America’s longtime adversaries will forever illustrate Trump‘s gut-driven, norm-shattering tenure.
⚫ Tweeting from his hotel room in the pre-dawn hours on Tuesday, Trump sought to heighten the suspense. “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly….but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!” he wrote.
⚫ In a bizarre moment, Dennis Rodman, a retired US basketballer who has struck up a friendship with Kim, appeared on TV crying as he spoke about the summit.
⚫ In what is perhaps the best quote of the summit so far, pool reporters say that as they walked away together after shaking hands, Kim said to Trump: “Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy from a science fiction movie.”
⚫ Later in the day, advisers will enter the room for a larger bilateral session and a working lunch. The White House said Trump would be joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton and the US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, who has lent his Korea expertise to the talks.