Trump, Kim claim sum­mit suc­cess

The Record (Troy, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Zeke Miller, Cather­ine Lucey, Josh Lederman and Foster Klug

SINGAPORE » Claim­ing suc­cess at their whirl­wind sum­mit, Pres­i­dent Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Singapore Tues­day, prais­ing their face-to-face progress to­ward rid­ding the Korean Penin­sula of nuclear weapons. Yet Trump faced pointed ques­tions at home about whether he got lit­tle and gave away much — in­clud­ing an agree­ment to halt U. S. mil­i­tary ex­er­cises with South Korea.

Meet­ing with staged cer­e­mony on a Singapore is­land, Trump and Kim had come to­gether for an un­prece­dented U. S.-North Korea meet­ing that seemed un­think­able months ear­lier when the two na­tions traded in­sults and 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 hopes of ending the North’s nuclear pro­gram.

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.” 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. Along the way, Trump tossed out pro­nounce­ments on U. S. al­liances, hu­man rights, and the na­ture of the ac­cord that he and Kim had signed.

Then he was off to Guam on the way back to the U.S.

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.

Dur­ing his press con­fer­ence, Trump ac­knowl­edged that de­nu­cle­ariza­tion won’t hap­pen overnight. But he con­tended, “Once you start the process it means it’s pretty much over,” an anal­y­sis that has proven faulty in the past de­spite in­spec­tion ef­forts.

Light on specifics, 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 in­clude a strik­ing con­ces­sion by Trump, who told re­porters he would freeze U. S. mil­i­tary “war games” with ally South Korea while ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the U.S. and the North con­tinue. Trump cast that de­ci­sion as a cost­sav­ing 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 Jaein af­ter leav­ing Singapore to brief him on the dis­cus­sions.

Trump also said he’d ob­tained a sep­a­rate con­ces­sion from Kim to de­mol­ish a mis­sile en­gine test­ing site, though it was just one site of many con­nected to the nuclear pro­gram.

As Trump took a vic­tory lap on the world stage, ex­perts and al­lies strug­gled to ac­count for what Trump and Kim had agreed to — and whether this agree­ment could ac­tu­ally be the first of its kind not to be bro­ken by the North Kore­ans.

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.

Be­tween hand­shakes, a White House in­vi­ta­tion, and even an im­promptu tour of “The Beast,” the famed U.S. pres­i­den­tial limou­sine known for its high-tech for­ti­fi­ca­tions, Trump sought to build a per­sonal con­nec­tion with Ki­mand said they have a “very good” re­la­tion­ship.

The U. S. pres­i­dent brushed off ques­tions about his pub­lic em­brace of the au­to­crat whose peo­ple have been op­pressed for decades. He added that Otto Warm­bier, an Amer­i­can who died last year just days af­ter his re­lease from im­pris­on­ment in North Korea, “did not die in vain” be­cause his death helped bring about the nuclear talks.

In the run-up to Tues­day’s his­toric face-to-face with Kim, Trump has ap­peared un­con­cerned about the im­pli­ca­tions of fet­ing an au­thor­i­tar­ian leader ac­cused by the U.S. of or­der­ing the pub­lic as­sas­si­na­tion of his half brother with a nerve agent, ex­e­cut­ing his un­cle by firing squad and pre­sid­ing over a no­to­ri­ous gu­lag es­ti­mated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers.

In their joint state­ment, the two lead­ers promised to “build a last­ing and sta­ble peace regime” on the Korean Penin­sula. Trump has dan­gled the prospect of eco- nomic in­vest­ment in the North as a sweet­ener for giv­ing up its nuclear weapons. The long­time prop­erty de­vel­oper-turned-politi­cian later mused about the po­ten­tial value of con­dos on the coun­try’s beach­front real es­tate.

The for­mal doc­u­ment-sign­ing, which also in­cluded an agree­ment to work to repa­tri­ate re­mains of pris­on­ers of war and those miss­ing in ac­tion from the Korean War, fol­lowed a se­ries of meet­ings at a lux­ury Singapore re­sort.

Ahead of 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.

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.”

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.

“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 that he em­brac­ing diplo­macy with Kim in hopes of sav­ing as many as 30 mil­lion lives.

The North has faced crip­pling diplo­matic and eco­nomic sanc­tions for years 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.

EVAN VUCCI — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S. Pres­i­dent Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella re­sort on Sen­tosa Is­land Tues­day in Singapore.

AHN YOUNG-JOON — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Peo­ple watch a TV screen show­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Donald Trump meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dur­ing a news pro­gram at the Seoul Rail­way Sta­tion in Seoul, South Korea, Tues­day.

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