Trump-Kim treaty to denuke North Korea
US hails bold step, DPRK leader pledges major change at summit
CLASPING hands and forecasting future peace, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un committed yesterday to “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula during the first meeting in history between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.
Yet as Trump toasted the summit’s results, he faced mounting questions about whether he got too little and gave away too much – including an agreement to halt US military exercises with treaty ally, South Korea.
Meeting at a staged ceremony on a Singapore island, Trump and Kim came together for a summit that seemed unthinkable months ago, when the two nations traded nuclear threats. The gathering of the two unpredictable leaders marked a striking gamble by the American president to grant Kim long-sought recognition on the world stage in the hope of ending the North’s nuclear programme.
Both leaders expressed optimism throughout roughly five hours of talks, with Trump thanking Kim afterwards “for taking the first bold step towards a bright new future for his people”. Kim, for his part, said the leaders had “decided to leave the past behind” and promised: “The world will see a major change.”
Light on specifics, the document signed by the two 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 towards ending the technical state of warfare between the US and North Korea.
Trump, holding forth at a free-flowing media briefing after Kim departed, said the North Korean leader had before him “an opportunity like no other” to bring his country back into the community of nations, if he follows through on pledges to give up his nuclear programme.
Trump announced that he would be freezing US military “war games” with its ally South Korea, while negotiations between the two countries continue. He 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 denuclearisation is long, but said, “once you start the process it means it’s pretty much over”. The president acknowledged that US intelligence on 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 brushed off questions about his public praise for an autocrat whose people have been oppressed for decades. He added that Otto Warmbier, an American once detained in North Korea, “did not die in vain” because his death brought about the nuclear talks.
And he said Kim has accepted an invitation to visit the White House – at the “appropriate” time.
The two leaders promised in their joint document to “build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula, repatriate remains of prisoners of war, and those missing in action from 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 yesterday’s Trump-Kim summit. Trump and Kim even directly referenced the so-called Panmunjom Declaration, which contained a weak commitment to denuclearisation 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 shouting questions to Trump and Kim after they signed the document, including whether they had discussed the case of Warmbier, the American college student who suffered brain damage while in North Korean custody and died in June, 2017, days after he returned home to Ohio. – African News Agency (ANA)
Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Kim Jong-un, second left, and US President Donald Trump, second right, sign a joint statement in Singapore yesterday.