Donald Trump is “desperate to be seen to be in charge” as he meets with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, according to a body language expert.
Analysing the historic handshake between the two leaders and the moments they shared afterwards, Paul Boross said the US president “tried to take over” during their “very, very staged” first encounter.
He told Sky News: “Trump and Kim – they are not playing to each other, they are playing to their audiences back at home, they’re very clear about the messages they wanted to give.”
Mr Boross spoke of the billionaire tycoon’s “desperation” as he gave Mr Kim several pats on the arm during and after the initial handshake.
“Trump tries to overtake it with the pat and control, it is a control indicator,” he said. “Trump tries to take over and he is doing as many pats as he can, which is very interesting because actually it doesn’t necessarily show the man who’s in charge.
“What it actually shows is the man who’s desperate to be seen to be in charge and that I think is where Kim actually stays very still and doesn’t react to the touches and actually, I think controls the situation without having to be seen to control the situation.”
Mr Boross said the arm touching was once viewed as a “friendly gesture” but had been “usurped” by politicians.
He added: “Now it is seen pretty much as a fake gesture.”
Referring to the US leader’s previous handshakes with other world leaders – such as France’s Emmanuel Macron – the expert noted how Mr Trump had a much stronger grip and even pulled his counterparts in towards him.
Mr Boross said Mr Kim had “done his homework” and came in close for the handshake and did not allow Mr Trump to overpower him.
Speaking about the moments afterwards, where the leaders sat down together, the expert said the American president fidgeting with his hands “quietly screamed impatience”.
Meanwhile, Kim was “very good at controlling the space” as he sat down, leaning forward, which Mr Boross said was about asserting power.
The body language expert also predicted the North Korean leader was wearing lifts in his shoes, to bring him closer to the height of President Trump.
Mr Kim is thought to be 5ft 7in tall and his US counterpart 6ft 1in – although he claims he is 6ft 3in tall.
Mr Boross said the North Koreans had thought “very carefully” about how his height would affect how Mr Kim was perceived.
Commenting on the pair walking together and them waving to reporters on a balcony, he said: “I think they walk in sync, in rhythm.
“The natural rapport has started. It’s a good indicator that they are at least comfortable. Another sign of confidence is how high the hand wave goes.”
Concluding, he said the encounter had been “fascinating” so far but it was “probably a score draw” when it comes to who has the upper hand so far.