Trump, Kim sign historic agree­ment

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

SIN­GA­PORE — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged yes­ter­day to work to­ward com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the Korean penin­sula while Wash­ing­ton com­mit­ted to pro­vide se­cu­rity guar­an­tees for its old en­emy.

But a joint state­ment signed at the end of their historic sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore gave few de­tails on how ei­ther goal would be achieved.

“Pres­i­dent Trump com­mit­ted to pro­vide se­cu­rity guar­an­tees to the DPRK and Chair­man Kim Jong Un reaf­firmed his firm and un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to com­plete de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion of the Korean Penin­sula,” said the state­ment.

DPRK is the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Republic of Korea, the for­mal name of North Korea.

Trump said he ex­pected the de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion process to start “very, very quickly”. US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo and North Korean of­fi­cials would hold fol­low-up ne­go­ti­a­tions “at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble date”, the state­ment said.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts said the sum­mit had yielded only sym­bolic re­sults and noth­ing tan­gi­ble.

“It is un­clear if fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tions will lead to the end goal of de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion,” said An­thony Rug­giero, se­nior fel­low of Wash­ing­ton’s Foun­da­tion for Defence of Democ­ra­cies think tank. “This looks like a re­state­ment of where we left ne­go­ti­a­tions more than 10 years ago and not a ma­jor step for­ward.”

The doc­u­ment also made no mention of the in­ter­na­tional sanctions that have crip­pled North Korea’s econ­omy for pur­su­ing its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme.

Nor was there any ref­er­ence to fi­nally sign­ing a peace treaty. North Korea and the United States were on op­po­site sides in the 1950-53 Korean War and are tech­ni­cally still at war, as the con­flict, in which mil­lions of peo­ple died, was con­cluded only with a truce.

But the joint state­ment did say the two sides had agreed to re­cov­er­ing the re­mains of pris­on­ers of war and of those miss­ing in ac­tion and repa­tri­at­ing them.

China, the third party to the truce, said it hoped North Korea and the United States could reach a ba­sic con­sen­sus on de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion.

“At the same time, there needs to be a peace mech­a­nism for the penin­sula to re­solve North Korea’s rea­son­able se­cu­rity con­cerns,” China’s top di­plo­mat, State Coun­cil­lor Wang Yi, told re­porters in Bei­jing.

If the joint state­ment does lead to a last­ing de­tente, it could fun­da­men­tally change the se­cu­rity land­scape of North­east Asia, just as former US Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon visit to Bei­jing in 1972 led to the trans­for­ma­tion of China.

But Li Nan, se­nior re­searcher at Pan­goal, a Bei­jing-based Chi­nese pub­lic pol­icy think tank, said the meet­ing had only sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance. “It is too early to call it a turn­ing point in North Korea-US re­la­tions,” Li said.

How­ever, the dollar jumped to a 3-week top yes­ter­day and Asian shares rose on news of the agree­ment.

Be­fore sign­ing what Trump de­scribed as a “com­pre­hen­sive” doc­u­ment, Kim said the two lead­ers had a historic meet­ing “and de­cided to leave the past be­hind. The world will see a ma­jor change.”

Trump said he had formed a “very spe­cial bond” with Kim and that re­la­tion­ship with North Korea would be very dif­fer­ent.

“Peo­ple are go­ing to be very im­pressed and peo­ple are go­ing to be very happy and we are go­ing to take care of a very dan­ger­ous prob­lem for the world,” Trump said.

Asked whether he would in­vite Kim to the White House, Trump said: “Ab­so­lutely, I will.”

He called Kim “very smart” and a “very wor­thy, very hard ne­go­tia­tor.”

“I learned he’s a very tal­ented man. I also learned that he loves his coun­try very much.”

Dur­ing a post-lunch stroll through the gar­dens of the Sin­ga­pore ho­tel where the sum­mit was held, Trump said the meet­ing had gone “bet­ter than any­body could have ex­pected”.

Kim stood silently along­side, but the North Korean leader had ear­lier de­scribed their sum­mit as a “a good pre­lude to peace”.

Both men walked to Trump’s bul­let-proof limou­sine, nick­named “The Beast”, and looked in at the rear seat, with Trump ap­par­ently show­ing Kim some­thing in­side. They then re­sumed their walk.

They had ap­peared cautious and se­ri­ous when they first ar­rived for the sum­mit at the Capella Ho­tel on Sin­ga­pore’s Sen­tosa, a re­sort is­land with lux­ury ho­tels, a casino, man­made beaches and a Universal Stu­dios theme park.

But, with cam­eras of the world’s press trained on them, they dis­played an ini­tial at­mos­phere of bon­homie as they met on the ve­ran­dah of the Capella, a re­fur­bished 19th cen­tury Bri­tish reg­i­men­tal of­fi­cers’ mess.

Body lan­guage ex­pert said both men tried to project com­mand as they met, but also dis­played signs of nerves.

After a hand­shake, they were soon smil­ing and hold­ing each other by the arm, be­fore Trump guided Kim to the li­brary where they held a meet­ing with only their in­ter­preters. Trump had said on Satur­day he would know within a minute of meet­ing Kim whether he would reach a deal.

In­side, they sat along­side each other against a back­drop of North Korean and US flags, with Kim beaming broadly as the US pres­i­dent gave him a thumbs up.

After ini­tial ex­changes last­ing around 40 min­utes, Trump and Kim emerged, walk­ing side-by-side through the colon­naded ho­tel be­fore en­ter­ing a meet­ing room, where they were joined by their most se­nior of­fi­cials.

Kim was heard telling Trump through a trans­la­tor: “I think the en­tire world is watch­ing this mo­ment. Many peo­ple in the world will think of this as a scene from a fan­tasy...sci­ence fic­tion movie.”

Trump was joined by Pom­peo, Na­tional Se­cu­rity Advisor John Bolton, and John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, for the ex­panded talks, while Kim’s team in­cluded former mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence chief Kim Yong Chol, for­eign min­is­ter Ri Yong Ho and Ri Su Yong, vice chair­man of the rul­ing Work­ers’ Party.

As the two lead­ers met, Sin­ga­pore navy ves­sels, and air force Apache he­li­copters pa­trolled, while fighter jets and an Gulf­stream 550 early warn­ing air­craft cir­cled.

After the meet­ings, the two teams and other se­nior of­fi­cials met for a work­ing lunch, where beef short ribs, sweet and sour pork and “Daegu Jormin”, or Korean braised cod, were served for the main course, ac­cord­ing to the menu. That was to be fol­lowed by dark choco­late tarts, pas­tries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. The North Korean leader’s sis­ter and close con­fi­dante Kim Yo Jong was among the lunch party. — Al Jazeera

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shake hands after sign­ing doc­u­ments dur­ing a sum­mit at the Capella Ho­tel on the re­sort is­land of Sen­tosa, Sin­ga­pore yes­ter­day

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