Trump criticised for returning salute to top North Korean military general

15 June 2018

Trump criticised for returning salute to top North Korean military general

The White House has defended US President Donald Trump on Thursday after he drew criticism for returning a salute to a North Korean three-star military general.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a statement to reporters two days after Mr Trump returned from the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying, “It’s a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes, that you return that.”

The video, which was released by the North Korean media, shows Mr Trump extend his hand to the Minister of People’s Armed Forces of North Korea No Kwang-chol, who instead salutes. Mr Trump returns the salute before shaking the general’s hand.

The salute by Mr Trump toward a top military official from an authoritarian country with a long history of human rights abuses has raised many eyebrows.

“This is a moment that will be used over and over in North Korea’s propaganda as ‘proof’ that the American President defers to the North Korean military,” Jean H Lee, a North Korea scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre, told The Washington Post.

A retired Naval admiral, James Stavridis, who served as the top NATO commander, said the salute was “a mistake.”

“I have never seen an American president salute an officer of another military, let alone a military that acts as a brutal enforcer of human slavery and awful prison camps in a gulag across its nation.”