POLITICS
06/14/2018 05:45 pm ET

White House Defends Trump's Salute Of North Korean General

A North Korean propaganda video shows the president saluting a general during this week's summit.

North Korea’s propaganda machine struck gold when U.S. President Donald Trump met with the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, this week.

On Thursday, just two days after the summit between Trump and Kim, the country’s state-run media aired a 42-minute documentary on the occasion.

The lengthy video includes plenty of previously unseen footage from the meeting, including a clip of Trump returning the salute of a North Korean general.

In the footage, Trump reaches for a handshake first, only to be met with a salute, which he returns. We don’t know the full context of the interaction.

An unnamed U.S. official told CNN that Trump was briefed on U.S. protocol, which includes not saluting military officers from other countries ― let alone officers from a hostile regime responsible for major human rights violations.

“[Trump’s] the commander in chief. He doesn’t even salute his own generals. They salute him. That’s the way it works,” Retired Rear Adm. John Kirby said. “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.”

The White House defended Trump’s unorthodox act as a simple courtesy.

“It’s a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes, you return that,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday.

Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of backlash on Twitter:

Others defended the act, noting that Trump was in an awkward situation: 

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