A Trump Salute Shows Up in North Korea Video

White House defends the salute as 'common courtesy'
By Janet Cromley,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2018 6:00 PM CDT

North Korean state media has released video of President Trump returning the salute of a North Korean general at the Singapore summit. The footage set off a debate about whether the benefits of showing mutual respect to the general outweighed the fact that North Koreans could use the film as a propaganda tool to bolster their own credibility. Trump reportedly had been briefed on saluting protocol, which is not to salute military officers from other countries, but rather to shake hands after their salute. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the salute and said it was “common courtesy.” But retired Rear Adm. John Kirby, disagreed and found the moment "striking," reports CNN. "(Trump) doesn't even salute his own generals. They salute him. That's the way it works.”

“You certainly don't do it with leaders of foreign military and you most certainly don't do it with the leaders of foreign militaries of an adversary nation," Kirby added. Indeed, North Korean state television has already released a 42-minute documentary that includes the salute. The inclusion of the salute is significant, North Korea scholar Jean Lee tells the Washington Post. The salute will be used “over and over in North Korea’s propaganda” and is “one more moment from a summit that essentially handed legitimacy and invaluable propaganda to Kim Jong Un and North Korea on a silver platter,” Lee said. Some who watched the exchange saw it as a reflexive act rather than a sign of respect. As Col. Jack Jacobs, a Medal of Honor recipient, told NBC, “I would have told him, 'They're going to salute you, but don't return the salute, just move smartly down the line.'" (More North Korea stories.)

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