Sunday , August 9 2020
Home / NEWS ANALYSIS / Handshakes that shook the world
Covid-19 Image

Handshakes that shook the world

Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in shaking hands at the Military Demarcation Line dividing the two Koreas at Panmunjom. Photo courtesy: AFP

Seoul, South Korea | AFP | When the leaders of North and South Korea reached across the Military Demarcation Line to shake hands on Friday, they symbolically — if fleetingly — united a peninsula that has been divided for decades.

The handshake between the two leaders marked the latest milestone in a rapid rapprochement after months of global fears about a nuclear conflict.

Here are some other handshakes that shook the world:

– Arafat-Rabin, 1993 –

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 US President Bill 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 two years 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 –

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 neighbours 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *