Handshakes that shook the world

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left) shakes hand with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday during their summit in Singapore. AFP PHOTO

SINGAPORE: Donald Trump’s handshake with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday marked a historic moment – the first meeting ever between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea.

The US president’s often-awkward handshakes with world leaders have sparked ridicule but many hope the one with Kim – the culmination of months of dramatic diplomacy – will lead to durable peace on the Korean peninsula.

Here are some other handshakes that shook the world:

The Koreas: Kim-Moon (2018)

On April 27, 2018, as the world held its breath, Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in reached across the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas and shook hands, the result of a remarkable thaw on the peninsula sparked by the Winter Olympics earlier this year.

This screen grab from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) taken on April 27, 2018 shows North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (L) and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in shaking hands at the Military Demarcation Line that divides their countries at Panmunjom.
The two men briefly stepped back over the line into the North before walking to the Peace House building on the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom for the summit — only the third of its kind since hostilities ceased in 1953. / AFP PHOTO / KOREAN BROADCASTING SYSTEM

Arafat-Rabin, 1993

The Rabin-Arafat handshake at the White House was one of the most dramatic moments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. AFP FILE PHOTO

After months of secret negotiations in Norway, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat stood in the South Lawn of the White House on September 13, 1993 to witness the signing of the Oslo Accords.

And then, in one of the most dramatic moments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Clinton’s arms stretched around both leaders, Arafat and Rabin shook hands.

The abortive process granted autonomy to the occupied Palestinian territories without creating a separate state, and ended the six-year-long popular Palestinian uprising—the Intifada—in which over 1,200 Palestinians and around 150 Israelis were killed.

Rabin was assassinated a year later by a Jewish extremist opposed to the peace process, which faltered in the years that followed. A second Intifada broke out in 2000.

Obama-Castro, 2013

There was a rapid thaw in US-Cuba ties after Barack Obama and Raul Castro shook hands in 2013. AFP PHOTO

At a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in 2013, US President Barack Obama made headlines when he shook hands with Cuba’s Raul Castro, the first such public greeting between leaders of the bitter neighbors after decades of enmity.

Within months, there was a rapid thaw. Full diplomatic relations were restored in July 2015, followed by once-unthinkable steps to mend ties after more than half a century of enmity.

Obama visited Cuba in 2016—the first such trip by an American president in 88 years. Washington also relaxed its decades-long embargo on the communist-ruled island, and US airlines resumed direct flights to Havana in November 2016.

Queen Elizabeth-McGuinness, 2012

The 2012 handshake between Queen Elizabeth II and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness was a gesture that was once unimaginable. AFP PHOTO

In a landmark moment in the Northern Ireland peace process, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II met Martin McGuinness, a former top commander in the paramilitary Irish Republican Army during the many years of bloody hostilities with British forces.

The IRA wanted an end to British rule in the province, and for it to be merged with the Republic of Ireland. McGuinness later became one of the figures that helped negotiate an end to the violence.

McGuinness—then a deputy first minister of Northern Ireland—shook hands with the Queen during her 2012 visit to the province.

It was a gesture towards reconciliation that would once have been unimaginable, with McGuinness’ militant past and British security operations still a source of anger for many.

Xi-Ma, 2015

The Xi-Ma summit in 2015 was the first time leaders from Beijing and Taipei met since Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949. AFP PHOTO

After decades of estrangement following a traumatic split at the end of a civil war in 1949, the presidents of China and Taiwan met for the first time ever in Singapore.

In unprecedented scenes, China’s Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou shook hands for more than a minute and smiled for a mass of reporters before holding talks. The summit led to the setting up of a hotline between Beijing and Taipei and a lowering of tensions between the self-ruled island and the mainland.

While the meeting was undeniably historic, there were no major concessions from either side. Ma ended up paying a heavy political price at home: Taiwanese voters chose to back Beijing-skeptic Tsai Ing-wen in the 2016 election amid fears about the island’s sovereignty. AFP 


The post Handshakes that shook the world appeared first on The Manila Times Online.