Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un hailed their historic summit Tuesday as a breakthrough in relations between Cold War foes, but the agreement they produced was short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.
The extraordinary encounter saw the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy shake hands with the third generation scion of a ruling dynasty, standing as equals in front of their nations’ flags.
Kim agreed to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that fell short of long-standing US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal.
After a day filled with smiles and compliments in the sumptuous setting of a luxury Singapore hotel that was watched around the world, the US “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea.
Ahead of the meeting, critics expressed concerns that it risked being more about media headlines than substantive progress.
Asked about denuclearisation — the crux of the summit — Trump said, “we’re starting that process”, adding that it would begin “very, very quickly.”
But the text of the two men’s agreement made no mention of previous US demands for “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” — jargon for scrapping weapons and committing to inspections.
Melissa Hanham of the US-based Center for Nonproliferation Studies said on Twitter that North Korea had “already promised to do this many times,” adding the two sides “still don’t agree on what ‘denuclearisation’ means.”
In neutral Singapore, the leaders, who had previously hurled insults like “mentally deranged” and “little rocket man”, showered compliments on each other.
Trump said he had formed a “special bond” with Kim, whose regime has been accused of multiple human rights abuse and who is suspected of ordering the assassination of his brother at a Malaysian airport last year.
“We’ll meet again,” Trump said after a signing ceremony, standing with Kim on the verandah where they first met. “We will meet many times.”
Trump said he “absolutely” would be willing to invite Kim to the White House.
For his part, Kim said the two Cold War foes had vowed to “leave the past behind”, pledging “the world will see a major change.”
The extraordinary summit — unthinkable only months ago — comes after the Washington and Pyongyang appeared on the verge of conflict late last year as the leaders slung personal insults and Kim conducted nuclear and missile tests.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit — the first in history — was an epochal event of great significance and overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.
June 12, 2018
At the start of the day, the pair shared warm words and shook hands for several seconds, Trump reaching out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder.
As they sat down for their tete-a-tete, the US leader — who had said he would know “within the first minute” if a deal would be possible — predicted a “terrific relationship” with Kim.
In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in watched live on television, telling his ministers, he “could hardly sleep last night”.
After huddling for around 40 minutes, Trump and Kim were joined by senior advisors before breaking for lunch, where prawn cocktail, short-rib confit, soy-braised cod, and vanilla ice-cream were among the options.
The imagery for the high-stakes meeting was undoubtedly positive and Kim Yong-hyun, professor at Dongguk University in Seoul said: “The atmosphere of the summit looks very good.”
“It will be hard for this meeting to agree on specific deals but it carries considerable significance as a starting point,” he said.
‘Fire and fury’
Critics said the mere fact of the meeting meant Trump was legitimising Kim, who critics say runs a police state where human rights are routinely trampled.
“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, Crisis Group Senior Adviser for North East Asia.
The warm words and positive optics seemed a different era from when Trump was threatening to rain down “fire and fury” on Pyongyang and Kim attacked Trump as a “mentally deranged US dotard”, as he fired off a series of provocative weapons tests.
The Singapore summit is a potentially legacy-defining meeting for both men — comparable to president Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, or Ronald Reagan’s 1986 summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik.
Remember when they remade the movie Karate Kid 25 years later? That’s what this is: pic.twitter.com/QVZMB3X6Sj
— Vipin Narang (@NarangVipin) June 12, 2018
But many agreements have been made in the past with North Korea that have later fallen apart.