North Korea’s KCTV news channel aired footage on Wednesday from Trump’s recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The video shows Trump shaking hands with Kim and another North Korean official. When the president reached out to shake the hand of the North Korean officer standing in full military uniform next to Kim, the officer, apparently confused, salutes Trump instead, prompting the president to salute back .
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday defended President Trump’s decision to salute a North Korean military officer, according to The Hill, calling it “common courtesy.”
“It’s a common courtesy when a military official from another government salutes that you return that,” she said.
Several reports have identified the North Korean military officer as No Kwang Chol, a three-star general.
CNN reported that that Trump was briefed on U.S. protocol, which is to never salute military officers from other countries.
Trump returned to Washington on Wednesday after meeting with Kim in Singapore. The two signed a seemingly vague and questionable document that gave Kim unspecified security assurances in exchange for a pledge to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, The Hill reports.
Several media outlets have tried and failed to get clarification on the documents contents, which also includes putting an end to joint U.S.- S. Korean military exercises on the Korean peninsula.