Trump sees ‘new fu­ture’ for North Korea, but path un­clear


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 meet­ing 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.

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