President Donald Trump is facing some heat Thursday after he went against presidential norms by saluting a North Korean general.
“I’m not trying to be gratuitous or unfair but isn’t saluting a General from an enemy military sort of a big deal?” tweeted Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat.
North Korea’s state news channel on Thursday was the first to broadcast a 42-minute long video from Trump’s meeting this week with Kim Jong Un. In a clip shared by the BBC, Trump is shown meeting various North Korean officials, including a North Korean military general.
The general first salutes Trump, to which the president salutes back, before shaking his hand. Kim is seen smiling in the background of the interaction.
United States presidents typically do not salute military officials with adversarial nations. Washington and Pyongyang currently have no formal diplomatic relationship, and North Korea is still technically at war South Korea, a key U.S. ally.
Human rights activists — and the U.S. government — have also admonished the North Korean regime for its long record of detaining and punishing thousands of people in prison camps.
The criticism directed at Trump mirrors the anger former President Barack Obama received early in his presidency when he bowed to two foreign leaders.
First, Obama faced blowback in 2009 after he bowed to Japanese Emperor Akihito during his first visit to Japan. Conservatives said the move displayed weakness from the U.S. on the world stage.
Obama was also criticized later that same year for bowing to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Trump in 2012 tweeted about Obama’s interaction with Abdullah, writing: “do we still want a President who bows to Saudis and lets OPEC rip us off?”