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Trump even joked to photographers, saying: "Getting a good picture, everybody? So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect."
"You don't need to call him your best friend to sign a deal about nuclear weapons."
It was a remarkable change in dynamics from only months ago, when Trump was threatening "fire and fury" against Kim, who in turn scorned the president as "mentally deranged" and a "dotard."
North Korea has committed "unspeakable atrocities" on a vast scale in a manner reminiscent of Nazi Germany, according to a 2014 United Nations investigation that said Kim's regime was guilty of murder, extermination, enslavement, forcible transfer, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, persecution, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts.
“I believe it's a rough situation over there, there's no question about it. We did discuss it today, pretty strongly,” the president said. “We'll be doing something on it. It's rough. It's rough in a lot of places, by the way, not just there. But it's rough.”
Experts have raised questions over how the U.S. and its allies will be able to confirm North Korean claims to have given up its nuclear weapons, when anyone who might talk to international inspectors risks being send to a prison camp.
Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, said he was uncomfortable with the warmth of the Trump-Kim photo opportunity.
“There's no reason you have to use that language to sign that deal,” he said on MSNBC. “You don't need to call him your best friend to sign a deal about nuclear weapons.”
For his part, Kim’s biggest moment on the world stage also betrayed a sense of awe and wonder.