by Adam Taylor June 13 at 9:26 AM Email the author
President Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. (Kevin Lim/Straits Times/AP)
Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister, told a television station on Wednesday that while the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore was “an undoubted step forward,” he was concerned about the erratic nature of U.S. foreign policy.
“In the space of just a day you see President Trump attacking Mr. Trudeau, who is a historic ally, and you see President Trump breaking with his collective allies after the G-7 meeting in Quebec, and the next day practically hugged a dictator born into a communist dictatorship, which just a few days ago he said he was completely opposed to,” Le Drian said, according to a translation from the Agence France-Presse news agency.
He was referring to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had hosted Trump and other leaders of the Group of Seven developed economies on Friday and Saturday, before the U.S. leader flew to Singapore to meet North Korea’s Kim.
During his meeting with the North Korean leader, Trump took a tactile approach, repeatedly shaking Kim's hand and touching his arm. The Washington Post spoke to body language experts who said most of the physical contact was initiated by Trump, who used touch to signal power.
Just days before the United States had been isolated at the G-7 summit in Canada. A photo from Saturday, which showed Trump sitting with his arms folded while fellow G-7 leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel loomed over him, was widely viewed as illustrating Trump’s combative relationship with his peers.
As the U.S. president left Quebec later that day, he fired off criticisms of Trudeau, saying he was “dishonest” and “weak” for pushing back on U.S. tariffs. In Singapore, following his summit with Kim, Trump reiterated his criticism of Canada, adding that all the G-7 countries were taking advantage of the United States, too.
Trump vowed to retaliate against Canada with new tariffs. He said of Trudeau: “He learned that’s going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada. He learned.”
Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron have both tried hard to develop a working relationship with Trump, despite their different outlook on a number of global issues. The U.S. president’s decision to abrogate the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, as well as ongoing disputes over trade and tariffs, have caused the relationship to break down.
Macron, the young French leader who overcame remarkable odds to win the presidential election in 2017, was among the harshest critics of Trump after the summit. “International cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” a statement released by his office on Sunday said. “Let's be serious and worthy of our people.”
Le Drian, a political veteran who had previously served as French defense minister under the previous government of François Hollande, warned in March that Trump’s tariffs on U.S. imports of steel and aluminum would have “detrimental effects on America’s worldwide influence” in the long-term.
In his interview with CNews television on Wednesday, Le Drian said that while the Trump-Kim summit was good news, similar agreements in the past had “come to nothing.” The world needs to “make sure this principle of denuclearization which was flaunted at this summit is really irreversible and verifiable,” he added.
“We are in a destabilizing situation,” Le Drian also said of Trump.
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Adam Taylor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. Originally from London, he studied at the University of Manchester and Columbia University. Follow @mradamtaylor The story must be told. Your subscription supports journalism that matters. Try 1 month for $1