No longer a nu­clear threat from North Korea: Trump

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - FRONT PAGE -

WASH­ING­TON: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clared Wed­nes­day there was “no longer a Nu­clear Threat from North Korea,” a du­bi­ous claim fol­low­ing his sum­mit with leader Kim Jong Un that pro­duced no guar­an­tees on how or when Py­ongyang would dis­arm.

Tem­per­ing Trump’s up­beat as­sess­ment, his top diplo­mat, Mike Pom­peo, cau­tioned that the U.S. would re­sume war games with close ally South Korea if the North stops ne­go­ti­at­ing in good faith.

The pres­i­dent had an­nounced a halt in the drills af­ter his meet­ing with Kim Tues­day.

The sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore, which marked a ma­jor re­duc­tion in ten­sions, yielded a joint state­ment that con­tained a prom­ise to work to­ward a de­nu­cle­arized Korean Penin­sula, but it lacked de­tails.

That didn’t stop the pres­i­dent from talk­ing up the out­come of what was the first meet­ing be­tween a U.S. and North Korean leader in six decades of hos­til­ity.

The Korean War ended in 1953 with­out a peace treaty, leav­ing the two sides in a tech­ni­cal state of war.

“Just landed – a long trip, but ev­ery­body can now feel much safer than the day I took of­fice,” Trump tweeted early Wed­nes­day.

“There is no longer a Nu­clear Threat from North Korea. Meet­ing with Kim Jong Un was an in­ter­est­ing and very pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence. North Korea has great po­ten­tial for the fu­ture!”

Pom­peo, who flew to Seoul to brief South Korean lead­ers on the sum­mit, said the U.S. wants North Korea to take “ma­jor” nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment steps within the next two years – be­fore the end of Trump’s first term in 2021.

He said the North Korean leader un­der­stands that “there will be indepth ver­i­fi­ca­tion” of nu­clear com­mit­ments in any deal with the U.S.

While Trump was fac­ing ques­tions at home and among al­lies about whether he gave away too much in re­turn for far too lit­tle at the sum­mit, North Korean state me­dia her­alded claims of a vic­to­ri­ous meet­ing with the U.S. pres­i­dent; pho­tos of Kim stand­ing side-by-side with Trump on the world stage were splashed across news­pa­pers.

Trump’s claim that North Korea no longer poses a nu­clear threat is ques­tion­able con­sid­er­ing Py­ongyang’s weapons ar­se­nal.

“Be­fore tak­ing of­fice peo­ple were as­sum­ing that we were go­ing to War with North Korea,” Trump tweeted. “Pres­i­dent [Barack] Obama said that North Korea was our big­gest and most dan­ger­ous prob­lem. No longer – sleep well tonight!”

Freez­ing the reg­u­lar mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea is a ma­jor con­ces­sion to North Korea that has long claimed the drills were in­va­sion prepa­ra­tions. It ap­peared to catch the Pen­tagon and of­fi­cials in Seoul off guard. Trump cast the de­ci­sion as a cost-sav­ing mea­sure, but also called the ex­er­cises “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” while talks con­tinue.

Pom­peo said he was there when Trump talked about it with Kim, and the pres­i­dent “made very clear” that the con­di­tion for the freeze was that good-faith talks be on­go­ing.

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