US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un concluded an extraordinary nuclear summit Tuesday with the US president pledging unspecified “security guarantees” to the North and Kim recommitting to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.
Meeting with staged ceremony on a Singapore island, Trump and Kim came together for a summit that seemed unthinkable months ago, clasping hands in front of a row of alternating US and North Korean flags, holding a one-on-one meeting, additional talks with advisers and a working lunch.
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”.
Trump added during a news conference that Kim has before him “an opportunity like no other” to bring his country back into the community of nations if he agrees to give up his nuclear programme.
Trump announced after the meeting that he will be freezing US military “war games” with its ally South Korea while negotiations between the two countries continue.
Trump cast the decision as a cost-saving measure, but North Korea has long objected to the drills as a security threat.
Trump sidestepped his public praise for an autocrat whose people have been oppressed for decades. He added Otto Warmbier, an American once detained in North Korea, “did not die in vain” because his death brought about the nuclear talks.
Light on specifics, the document signed by the leaders largely amounted to an agreement to continue discussions as it echoed previous public statements and past commitments.
It did not include an agreement to take steps toward ending the technical state of warfare between the US and North Korea.
The pair promised in the document to “build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula and to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.
Language on North Korea’s bombs was similar to what the leaders of North and South Korea came up with at their own summit in April.
At the time, the Koreans faced criticism for essentially kicking the issue of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal down the road to Tuesday’s Trump-Kim summit.
Trump and Kim even directly referenced the so-called Panmunjom Declaration, which contained a weak commitment to denuclearisation and no specifics on how to achieve it.
The formal document signing followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort.
After the signing, Trump said he expected to “meet many times” in the future with Kim and, in response to questions, said he “absolutely” would invite Kim to the White House.
For his part, Kim hailed the “historic meeting” and said they “decided to leave the past behind”.