Donald Trump predicted he would have a “terrific relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as the two men met for an historic summit in Singapore.
“It’s my honour”, Mr Trump said.
Mr Kim responded through a translator that “it was not easy” to come together for the unprecedented meeting – believed to be the first time an American president has come face-to-face with a North Korean leader.
“There were obstacles but we overcame them to be here”, Mr Kim was quoted as saying.
In an extraordinary moment, the two men grasped hands in front of a line of American and North Korean flags – offering an indelible image before they launched into talks about dissolving North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. President,” Mr Kim could be heard telling his American counterpart.
The North Korean leader was dressed in his customary all-black outfit while Mr Trump wore a suit and a red tie. Mr Trump briefly grasped Mr Kim’ shoulder over the course of a handshake that lasted several seconds.
Such a meeting seemed all but unthinkable months earlier, when Mr Trump was threatening North Korea with “fire and fury” vowing to “totally destroy North Korea” if necessary in response to North Korean missile tests and belligerent statements.
Mr Kim later extended an invitation to meet and pledged his commitment to denuclearisation. Mr Trump briefly suspended the talks after Pyongyang issued a statement attacking vice president Mike Pence but swiftly reversed and said the summit would proceed as planned.
Having once derisively branded Mr Kim as “little rocket man,” Mr Trump has in recent months offered kinder words for the North Korean leader, describing the head of a repressive totalitarian regime as “very honourable” and “very open”.