Is there a ‘new fu­ture’ for N. Korea?

Trump says yes; path un­clear

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By ZEKE miLLEr, cAThErinE LUcEy, JoSh LEDErmAn AnD FoSTEr KLUG

SIN­GA­PORE — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wrapped up his five-hour nu­clear sum­mit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with sur­pris­ingly warm words and hope for “a bright new fu­ture” for Kim’s iso­lated and im­pov­er­ished na­tion. Yet he im­me­di­ately faced pointed ques­tions at home about whether he got lit­tle and gave away much in his push to make a deal with the young au­to­crat — in­clud­ing an agree­ment to halt U.S. mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea.

Meet­ing with staged cer­e­mony on a Sin­ga­pore island, Trump and Kim signed a joint state­ment Tues­day agree­ing to work to­ward a de­nu­cle­arized Korean Penin­sula, although the time­line and tac­tics were left un­clear. Trump later promised to end “war games,” with ally South Korea, a con­ces­sion to Kim that ap­peared to catch the Pen­tagon and Seoul gov­ern­ment off guard and sowed con­fu­sion among Trump’s Repub­li­can sup­port­ers in Wash­ing­ton.

The head-scratch­ing was a fit­ting end for a meet­ing marked by un­pre­dictabil­ity. The face to face was un­think­able just months ear­lier as the two lead­ers traded in­sults and nu­clear threats.

In agree­ing to the sum­mit, Trump risked grant­ing Kim his long-sought recog­ni­tion on the world stage in hopes of end­ing the North’s nu­clear pro­gram.

While progress on the nu­clear ques­tion was murky, the lead­ers spent the pub­lic por­tions of their five hours to­gether ex­press­ing op­ti­mism and mak­ing a show of their new re­la­tion­ship. Trump de­clared he and Kim had de­vel­oped “a very spe­cial bond.” He gave Kim a glimpse of the pres­i­den­tial limou­sine. Kim, for his part, said the lead­ers had “de­cided to leave the past be­hind” and promised, “The world will see a ma­jor change.”

Soon, Kim was on a plane headed home, while a clearly ebul­lient Trump held forth for more than an hour be­fore the press on what he styled as a his­toric achieve­ment to avert the prospect of nu­clear war. Be­fore leav­ing him­self, Trump tossed out pro­nounce­ments on U.S. alliances, hu­man rights and the na­ture of the ac­cord that he and Kim had signed.

The de­tails of how and when the North would de­nu­cle­arize ap­pear yet to be de­ter­mined, as are the na­ture of the un­spec­i­fied “pro­tec­tions” Trump is pledg­ing to Kim and his gov­ern­ment.

As Trump ac­knowl­edged that de­nu­cle­ariza­tion would not be ac­com­plished overnight, the North sug­gested to­day that Trump had moved away from his de­mand for com­plete de­nu­cle­ariza­tion be­fore U.S. sanc­tions on the long-iso­lated coun­try are re­moved.

The state-run Korean Cen­tral News Agency said Wed­nes­day the two lead­ers “shared recog­ni­tion to the ef­fect that it is im­por­tant to abide by the prin­ci­ple of stepby-step and si­mul­ta­ne­ous ac­tion in achiev­ing peace, sta­bil­ity and de­nu­cle­ariza­tion of the Korean Penin­sula.”

The White House did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to the North Korean char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the deal.

The Sin­ga­pore ac­cord largely amounts to an agree­ment to con­tinue dis­cus­sions, echo­ing pre­vi­ous pub­lic state­ments and com­mit­ments. It does not, for in­stance, in­clude an agree­ment to take steps to­ward end­ing the tech­ni­cal state of war­fare be­tween the U.S. and North Korea.

Nor does it de­tail plans for North Korea to de­mol­ish a mis­sile en­gine test­ing site, a con­ces­sion Trump said he’d won, or Trump’s prom­ise to end mil­i­tary ex­er­cises in the South while ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the U.S. and the North con­tinue. Trump cast that de­ci­sion as a cost-sav­ing mea­sure, but also called the ex­er­cises “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” while talks con­tinue. North Korea has long ob­jected to the drills as a se­cu­rity threat.

It was un­clear whether South Korea was aware of Trump’s de­ci­sion be­fore he an­nounced it pub­licly. U.S. Forces Korea said in a state­ment Tues­day it was un­aware of any pol­icy change. Trump phoned South Korean Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in af­ter leav­ing Sin­ga­pore to brief him on the dis­cus­sions. Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo flew to Seoul to­day for fol­low-up meet­ings.

The U.S. has sta­tioned com­bat troops in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in the 1950s and has used them in a va­ri­ety of drills. The next sched­uled ma­jor ex­er­cise, in­volv­ing tens of thou­sands of troops, nor­mally is held in Au­gust.

The Pen­tagon said Tues­day it was con­sult­ing with the White House and oth­ers, but was si­lent on whether the Au­gust ex­er­cise would pro­ceed. Mat­tis’ chief spokes­woman, Dana W. White, told re­porters he was “in full align­ment” with Trump.

Law­mak­ers, too, were looking for de­tails. Re­pub­li­cans emerged from a meet­ing with Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence want­ing more in­for­ma­tion on which ex­er­cises were on hold. Col­orado Sen. Corey Gard­ner said Pence told them that small-scale ex­er­cises would con­tinue, but “war games will not.” Pence’s spokes­woman later de­nied that com­ment.

“There will be cer­tain ex­er­cises that will con­tinue.” Gard­ner told AP, adding he hoped “there’s fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion what that means.”

North Korea is be­lieved to pos­sess more than 50 nu­clear war­heads, with its atomic pro­gram spread across more than 100 sites con­structed over decades to evade in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tions. Trump in­sisted that strong ver­i­fi­ca­tion of de­nu­cle­ariza­tion would be in­cluded in a fi­nal agree­ment, say­ing it was a de­tail his team would be­gin sort­ing out with the North Kore­ans next week.

The agree­ment’s lan­guage on North Korea’s nu­clear pro­gram was sim­i­lar to what the lead­ers of North and South Korea came up with at their own sum­mit in April. Trump and Kim re­ferred back to the so-called Pan­munjom Dec­la­ra­tion, which con­tained a weak commitment to de­nu­cle­ariza­tion but no specifics on how to achieve it.

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pre­pare to sign a doc­u­ment at the Capella re­sort Tues­day on Sen­tosa Island in Sin­ga­pore.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.