Small talk dur­ing break at his­toric sum­mit

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stroll and chat af­ter their work­ing lunch at the Capella Ho­tel in Sin­ga­pore on Tues­day.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page -

PRES­I­DENT Don­ald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un con­cluded an ex­tra­or­di­nary nu­clear sum­mit Tues­day with the U.S. pres­i­dent pledg­ing un­spec­i­fied “se­cu­rity guar­an­tees” to the North and Kim recom­mit­ting to the “com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.”

Meet­ing with staged cer­e­mony on a Sin­ga­pore is­land, Trump and Kim came to­gether for a sum­mit that seemed un­think­able months ago, clasp­ing hands in front of a row of al­ter­nat­ing U.S. and North Korean flags, hold­ing a one-onone meet­ing, ad­di­tional talks with ad­vis­ers and a work­ing lunch.

Both lead­ers ex­pressed op­ti­mism through­out roughly five hours of talks, with Trump thank­ing Kim af­ter­ward “for tak­ing the first bold step to­ward a bright new fu­ture for his peo­ple.”

Trump added dur­ing a free-flow­ing news con­fer­ence that Kim has be­fore him “an op­por­tu­nity like no other” to bring his coun­try back into the com­mu­nity of na­tions if he agrees to give up his nu­clear pro­gram.

Trump an­nounced that he will be freez­ing U.S. mil­i­tary “war games” with its ally South Korea while ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the two coun­tries con­tinue. Trump cast the de­ci­sion as a cost-sav­ing mea­sure, but North Korea has long ob­jected to the drills as a se­cu­rity threat.

Trump ac­knowl­edged that the timetable for de­nu­cle­ariza­tion is long, but said, “once you start the process it means it’s pretty much over.”

The pres­i­dent ac­knowl­edged that U.S. in­tel­li­gence into the North Korean nu­clear stock­pile is lim­ited, “prob­a­bly less there than any other coun­try,” he said. “But we have enough in­tel­li­gence to know that what they have is very sub­stan­tial.”

Trump sidestepped his pub­lic praise for an au­to­crat whose peo­ple have been op­pressed for decades. He added Otto Warm­bier, an Amer­i­can once de­tained in North Korea, “did not die in vain” be­cause his death brought about the nu­clear talks.

Trump said Kim ac­cepted his in­vi­ta­tion to visit the White House at the “ap­pro­pri­ate” time.

Light on specifics, the doc­u­ment signed by the lead­ers largely amounted to an agree­ment to con­tinue dis­cus­sions as it echoed pre­vi­ous pub­lic state­ments and past com­mit­ments. It did not in­clude an agree­ment to take steps to­ward end­ing the tech­ni­cal state of war­fare be­tween the U.S. and North Korea.

The pair promised in the doc­u­ment to “build a last­ing and sta­ble peace regime” on the Korean Penin­sula and to repa­tri­ate re­mains of pris­on­ers of war and those miss­ing in ac­tion dur­ing the Korean War.

Lan­guage on North Korea’s bombs was sim­i­lar to what the lead­ers of North and South Korea came up with at their own sum­mit in April. At the time, the Kore­ans faced crit­i­cism for es­sen­tially kick­ing the is­sue of North Korea’s nu­clear ar­se­nal down the road to Tues­day’s Trump-Kim sum­mit. Trump and Kim even di­rectly ref­er­enced the so-called Pan­munjom Dec­la­ra­tion, which con­tained a weak com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and no specifics on how to achieve it.

The for­mal doc­u­ment sign­ing fol­lowed a se­ries of meet­ings at a luxury Sin­ga­pore re­sort.

Af­ter the sign­ing, Trump said he ex­pected to “meet many times” in the fu­ture with Kim and, in re­sponse to ques­tions, said he “ab­so­lutely” would in­vite Kim to the White House. For his part, Kim hailed the “his­toric meet­ing” and said they “de­cided to leave the past be­hind.”

In a mo­ment that would never hap­pen in North Korea, re­porters be­gan yelling ques­tions to Trump and Kim af­ter they signed the doc­u­ment, in­clud­ing whether they had dis­cussed the case of Otto Warm­bier, the Amer­i­can col­lege stu­dent who suf­fered brain dam­age while in North Korean cus­tody and died in June 2017, days af­ter he was re­turned home to Ohio.

In the run-up to the meet­ing, Trump had pre­dicted the two men might strike a nu­clear deal or forge a for­mal end to the Korean War in the course of a sin­gle meet­ing or over sev­eral days. But in the hours be­fore the sum­mit, the White House un­ex­pect­edly an­nounced Trump would depart Sin­ga­pore ear­lier than ex­pected — Tues­day evening — rais­ing ques­tions about whether his as­pi­ra­tions for an am­bi­tious out­come had been scaled back.

The meet­ing was the first be­tween a sit­ting U.S. pres­i­dent and a North Korean leader.

Aware that the eyes of the world were on a mo­ment many peo­ple never ex­pected to see, Kim said many of those watch­ing would think it was a scene from a “sci­ence fic­tion movie.”

Af­ter meet­ing pri­vately and with aides, Trump and Kim moved into the lun­cheon at a long flower-be­decked ta­ble. As they en­tered, Trump in­jected some lev­ity to the day’s ex­tra­or­di­nary events, say­ing: “Get­ting a good picture ev­ery­body? So we look nice and hand­some and thin? Per­fect.”

Then they dined on beef short rib con­fit along with sweet and sour crispy pork.

And as they emerged from the meal for a brief stroll to­gether, Trump ap­peared to delight in show­ing his North Korean coun­ter­part the in­te­rior of “The Beast,” the famed U.S. pres­i­den­tial limou­sine known for its high-tech for­ti­fi­ca­tions.

Crit­ics of the sum­mit leapt at the lead­ers’ hand­shake and the moon­light stroll Kim took Mon­day night along the glit­ter­ing Sin­ga­pore wa­ter­front, say­ing it was fur­ther ev­i­dence that Trump was help­ing le­git­imize Kim on the world stage. Kim has been ac­cused of hor­rific rights abuses against his peo­ple.

“It’s a huge win for Kim Jong Un, who now — if noth­ing else — has the pres­tige and pro­pa­ganda coup of meet­ing one on one with the pres­i­dent, while armed with a nu­clear de­ter­rent,” said Michael Kovrig, a north­east Asia spe­cial­ist at the In­ter­na­tional Crisis Group in Washington.

Trump re­sponded to such com­men­tary on Twit­ter, say­ing: “The fact that I am hav­ing a meet­ing is a ma­jor loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers.” But he added “our hostages” are back home and test­ing, re­search and launches have stopped.

Giv­ing voice to the an­tic­i­pa­tion felt around the world as the meet­ing opened, South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in said Tues­day he “hardly slept” be­fore the sum­mit. Moon and other of­fi­cials watched the live broad­cast of the sum­mit be­fore a South Korean Cabi­net meet­ing in his pres­i­den­tial of­fice

The sum­mit capped a dizzy­ing few days of for­eign pol­icy ac­tiv­ity for Trump, who shocked U.S. al­lies over the week­end by us­ing a meet­ing in Canada of the Group of Seven in­dus­tri­al­ized economies to alien­ate Amer­ica’s clos­est friends in the West. Lash­ing out over trade prac­tices, Trump lobbed in­sults at his G-7 host, Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. Trump left that sum­mit early and, as he flew to Sin­ga­pore, tweeted that he was yank­ing the U.S. out of the group’s tra­di­tional clos­ing state­ment.

The op­ti­mistic sum­mit was a re­mark­able change in dy­nam­ics from less than a year ago, when Trump was threat­en­ing “fire and fury” against Kim, who in turn scorned the Amer­i­can pres­i­dent as a “men­tally de­ranged U.S. dotard.” Beyond the im­pact on both lead­ers’ po­lit­i­cal for­tunes, the sum­mit could shape the fate of count­less peo­ple — the ci­ti­zens of im­pov­er­ished North Korea, the tens of mil­lions liv­ing in the shadow of the North’s nu­clear threat, and mil­lions more world­wide.

Al­lud­ing to the North’s con­cerns that giv­ing up its nu­clear weapons could sur­ren­der its pri­mary de­ter­rent to forced regime change, Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo told re­porters that the U.S. was pre­pared to take ac­tion to pro­vide North Korea with “suf­fi­cient cer­tainty” that de­nu­cle­ariza­tion “is not some­thing that ends badly for them.”

He would not say whether that in­cluded the possibility of with­draw­ing U.S. troops from the Korean Penin­sula, but said the U.S. was “pre­pared to take what will be se­cu­rity as­sur­ances that are dif­fer­ent, unique, than Amer­ica’s been will­ing to pro­vide pre­vi­ously.”

The North has faced crip­pling diplo­matic and eco­nomic sanc­tions as it has ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment of its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams. Pom­peo held firm to Trump’s po­si­tion that sanc­tions will re­main in place un­til North Korea de­nu­cle­arizes — and said they would even in­crease if diplo­matic dis­cus­sions did not progress pos­i­tively.

PHOTO: EPA

Photo: AP

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump holds up the doc­u­ment that he and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un just signed at the Capella re­sort on Sen­tosa Is­land Tues­day, June 12, 2018 in Sin­ga­pore.

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