Trump-Kim Agree Korean Peninsula Denuclearization as Long-Term Process

Published June 12th, 2018 - 07:37 GMT
Trump and Kim sign comprehensive document (AFP/File Photo)
Trump and Kim sign comprehensive document (AFP/File Photo)

President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un concluded a day of talks in Singapore by signing what the U.S. president described as a 'very comprehensive' document.

Trump did not go into further detail about the contents of the agreement that was a framework for further talks.

'People are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy, and we’re going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world,' Trump claimed. 'And I want to thank chairman Kim. Spent a lot of time together today, very intensive time.'

Trump said, providing slightly more detail, that denuclearization would be a process and that he believes it will happen 'very quickly' following the signing of the document.

The agreement reaffirms an earlier declaration and commits North Korea to 'work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,' the Wall Street Journal reported. Another point commits the U.S. and North Korea 'to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.' An additional point committed the nations to 'join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.'

The U.S. president also affirmed he would 'absolutely' be willing to host Kim at the White House after today's conversations. telling a room full of journalists representing American and North Korean outlets, 'This is going to lead to more and more and more and it’s an honor to be with you a very great honor.'

'We'll meet again. We'll meet many times,' he stated.

Trump earlier said as the summit commenced that 'it's an honor' to be with Kim today to open a direct line of communication that he expects to blossom into 'a terrific relationship' with the longtime U.S. antagonist.

He told journalists later, after a working lunch that he had a 'really fantastic meeting' with Kim and that he believes was 'really, very positive.'

'I think, better than anybody could have expected, top of the line, really good. We're going right now for a signing,' he said. 

Talks were apparently going so well on Tuesday afternoon that Trump showed Kim his limo, opening a door so he could inspect the car that travels everywhere with the U.S. president and flies in the belly of his plane when he's abroad.

After the summit had ended, Trump assessed that Kim had a 'great personality' and is 'very smart -- good combination.'

'A worthy negotiator...a very worthy, very smart negotiator,' the U.S. president added. 'We had a terrific day and we learned a lot about each other and our countries.'

Trump and Kim began the summit with a hearty handshake, exchanging pleasantries for the cameras and meeting one-on-one for 38 minutes with only translators present while the world watched with anticipation as the first-ever meeting between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader unfolded.

Trump told reporters as he sat down for his initial meeting with Kim that he believed they were 'going to have a great discussion' that he believed would be a 'tremendous success.'

'It will be tremendously successful,' he reiterated. 'And it's an honor, and we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.'

Kim – whose voice is rarely if ever heard in the West – told the U.S. president through an interpreter, 'Well, it was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today.'

'That's true,' Trump said in agreement, shaking his counterpart's hand and making what appeared to be joke that was audible to only the two men and their translators as reporters were led out out of the room.

Trump and Kim then held private talks with only their interpreters before walking together along a route that provided them with another opportunity to speak to press.

'Very, very good. Excellent relationship,' Trump told a tightly-restricted group of assembled journalists.

The leaders ignored questions from the U.S. media on denuclearization of the Koran Peninsula, the topic of the Singapore talks.

Moments later, Trump and Kim rejoined senior officials from both nations for a meeting that was supposed to get into the nitty-gritty of a possible nuclear disarmament deal.

'Of course there will be challenges ahead, but I am ready to listen,' Kim could be heard telling the U.S. president in the group setting, through a translator. 'We overcame all kinds of skepticism and speculations about this summit, and I believe that this is good for the peace.' 

Trump told him, 'We will solve [this]. We will be successful. And I look forward to working on it with you. It will be done.'

A working lunch on Tuesday  featured prawn cocktail with avocado salad, green mango kerabu with honey lime dressing and fresh octopus and 'Oiseon' Korean stuffed cucumber as starters.

For the main course, the leaders had the choice of beef short rib confit, sweet and sour crispy pork and Yangzhou fried rice with chili sauce or soy braised cod fish.

Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream with cherry coulis, Tropezienne and a dark chocolate tartlet ganache were listed on a White House handout as the dessert options.

'Very nice. Get a good picture everybody so we look nice and handsome and thin. Perfect,' Trump jested to journalists as they were briefly allowed to observe the meal. 

The almost unbelievable nature of the encounter hasn't been lost on Kim, whose repressive regime has kept the U.S. on edge for decades through bellicose statements, nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.

'Many people in the world will think of this as a ... form of fantasy … from a science fiction movie,' he told the president through a translator in a remark overheard during a morning session by the press.   

In their very first greeting, Trump set the tone for the talks, sending Kim an outstretched hand and patting the dictator's right elbow with the other. Neither man smiled during the formal photo, taken on a red carpet in front of alternating American and North Korean flags.

As they turned the corner to head into their first of several sessions, however, in an area that Trump may have thought was off camera, the U.S. leader broke into a smile while exchanging quiet words with Kim and another handshake that lasted several seconds.A third grip-and-grin followed brief remarks to press inside the portion of their one-on-one meeting that was open to cameras.

For both leaders, everything was on the line on Tuesday in Singapore. Kim has the incentive of sanctions relief. For Trump, an agreement, no matter how weak was better than coming away empty-handed.



Trump had taunted his critics earlier on Tuesday in the hours before his history-making meeting with the North Korean dictator in tweets.

'The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers. We have our hostages, testing, research and all missle launches have stoped, and these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!' he tweeted.

Trump began shaping news coverage of his summit with Kim, taking place at 9 am local time and 9 pm in Washington, bright and early at 5:30 am.

He said in tweets before the sun rose over Singapore that 'meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly,' echoing a statement from his White House the evening before that talks were progressing so fast Trump would leave Singapore early.

'But in the end, that doesn't matter,' he acknowledged on Twitter. 'We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!'

Trump's motorcades was the first to pull into the Capella Resort in Singapore, which has been closed to outsiders for days out of extreme precaution, on Tuesday morning. Kim was not far behind, after making the under-fifteen minute drive from his hotel to Sentosa island along a route filled with gawkers. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shared a photo of himself marching through a hallway with a determined look on his face as his opening salvo in a tweet that declared: 'We're ready for today.'

Kim, meanwhile, spent the hours leading up to talks attempting to soften his image. The vicious ruler who has directed the murder of his own family members in a quest to consolidate his already absolute power posed for photos on Monday night as he went on a sightseeing tour with Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

His tour included a stop at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and casino, where he was welcomed by a cheering crowd of tourists and local residents who had flocked to the location to take in the spectacle.

As his trip around the city was taking place, the White House pulled the curtain back on the schedule for today's talks. 

A White House statement said the summit would consist of an introductory meeting, group discussion with the two nation's senior officials, working lunch and press avail before Trump departs for Washington.

'The discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved more quickly than expected,' the statement said in an explanation of Trump's newly announced Tuesday evening departure.  

The White House said that Trump and Kim will speak with only translators present before a joint meeting with their delegations, as is consistent with the way that conversations with foreign leaders are typically handled. The president usually spends several minutes alone with his counterparts before moving into expanded bilaterals.

Pompeo told journalists during a briefing several hours earlier that Trump is 'going into this meeting with confidence, a positive attitude and an eagerness for real progress' toward North Korean disarmament.

He also said that America is prepared to offer Kim 'unique' security guarantees if the country is willing to give up its nuclear weapons.

Trump and Kim arrived within hours of each other in Singapore on Sunday. The U.S. president who almost never dines outside the White House and does not partake in alcohol hunkered down for most of Monday.

His only trip outside the posh hotel he's residing at was to the presidential palace for a meeting and luncheon with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The summit's host nation presented him with a cake to celebrate his Thursday birthday. Trump turns 72 on June 14.

During the rare trip out of his hermetic nation, the 33-year-old Kim also hobnobbed with Singaporean officials. The dictator sat with Loong for formal talks on Sunday and went out on the town with the prime minister's education and finance ministers the following evening.

Trump said Monday that he is preparing for a 'very interesting meeting tomorrow' with Kim in the only remarks he has made to camera since arriving in Singapore on Sunday.

'We've got very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow,' he said, 'and I just think it's going to work out very nicely.' 

The visit to see Lee was the only outward facing item on Trump's agenda on the eve of his high-stakes negotiations with Kim.

A meet and greet at Trump's hotel with embassy staff was held behind closed doors, and after lunch the White House said there would be no more appearances on Monday in public for the U.S. president.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah told that Trump, who was not accompanied abroad by the first lady, would spend his evening in briefings with senior staff preparing for the summit with Kim that was due to kick off first thing on Tuesday. 

Pompeo told reporters on Monday evening in remarks underscoring a Saturday declaration by the president that 'this is truly a mission of peace' and said he is 'hopeful that the summit will set the conditions for future productive talks.'

He also swatted down a New York Times report that claimed the U.S. lacked the technical expertise to have a conversation about the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear weapons program in real time.

Pompeo said that the president's senior-most expert in weapons of mass destruction is on the ground in Singapore and that officials with PhDs in every relevant area are waiting on standby in Washington.  

'The ultimate objective we seek from the diplomacy with North Korea has not changed. The complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept,' he asserted at a televised briefing. 

Until that time, he said 'sanctions will remain' in place and 'those measures will increase' if talks with North Korea stall. 

If Kim plays ball, Pompeo said Trump is prepared to ensure that a WMD-less North Korea is secure.

'We're prepared to take security assurances that are different, unique, than have been provided, that America's been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate,' he asserted.

Pompeo refused to say what those security assurances were. 'There's gonna be a lot of work left to do there's a lot of detail that's gotta be provided, we are not going to conduct these negotiations in the open with media,' he stated. 'We're gonna conduct them between the two parties so that we have an opportunity to have a real success here.' 

North Korean vice-foreign minister Choe Son Hui and a delegation of North Korean officials met with U.S. officials, including United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Singapore to negotiate the final details of the summit on Monday.

Pompeo said in a Monday afternoon update, 'We have had substantive and detailed meetings to date, including this morning with the North Koreans. 

The U.S. president arrived in Singapore on Sunday evening local time for talks could change the course of history and earn him the Nobel Peace Prize, if successful in convincing the world's most isolated nation to end its pursuit of mankind's most deadly weapons.

After a grueling 21 hours of travel that included a refueling stop on a Greek island, Trump touched down at Paya Labar Air Base in Singapore. He told journalists nearby he was feeling 'very good' about his meeting on Tuesday with Kim and then sped off in his motorcade to conclude his first evening in the country in privacy of his room at the Shangri-La, the luxury hotel housing the U.S. delegation.

He followed in the footsteps of Kim on Monday by meeting with Lee after the North Korean leader met with the head of the summit's host nation after his own arrival on Sunday afternoon via an Air China flight.

Kim is staying at the St. Regis hotel, near Trump. The foreign leaders are holding their summit at a third location, the Capella Resort, ensconced on 30 acres of land south of the city on Sentosa Island.

Their face-to-face discussion is a first between a U.S. president and North Korean autocrat since Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-sung, assumed power in 1948.

President Trump has boldly predicted that the summit with Kim Jong-un will be a 'great success' and have a positive outcome not just for the two parties but for the world at large.  

The U.S. president said Monday that 'excitement in the air' in Singapore, the high-class city that doubles as a nation and is generously footing bill for his $20 million Kim summit.

A first-term president with no prior political experience who has a flare for the dramatics, Trump's skeptics say this week's summit with Kim will serve as little more than a misguided photo-op.

His admission in the lead up to the trip that he'd done little to get ready for the face-to-face with the 33-year-old dictator and was relying on his 'attitude' and 'willingness' to strike an accord did little to lessen anxiety at home that Trump would make a catastrophic mistake. 

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday chided that 'the situation is far too dangerous for seat of the pants negotiating' after warning Trump earlier in the week against entering an agreement with Kim 'just for the sake of reaching a deal.'

The sniping from the sidelines prompted Trump to charge that Schumer and his party 'did NOTHING about North Korea' and is now 'telling me what to do at the Summit the Dems could never set up.'

'Schumer failed with North Korea and Iran,' he tweeted, 'we don't need his advice!' 

The 71-year-old billionaire whose birthday is Thursday reassured naysayers Friday that he has 'been preparing all my life' for the showdown with Kim and said Saturday at a media availability that 'within the first minute' he expects to know if his negotiation partner is serious about denuclearization.

'I think I'll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen,' Trump said at an impromptu news conference after the G7 summit. 'And if I think it won't happen, I'm not going to waste my time. I don't want to waste his time.'

Trump has repeatedly said he will get up and leave the meeting that he now claims will be only a first step in the direction of North Korean denuclearization if talks are not productive.

'I think it's a 'getting to know you' meeting, plus,' he said last week, setting expectations, after a visit from Kim's lead negotiator. 'And that can be a very positive thing,' he added. 

Trump's determination that he would not be able to persuade Kim in one sitting to drop his country's decades-old pursuit of a nuclear warhead with the power to destroy cities inside the United States provided for an easy-to-meet goal for his administration – just showing up to the meeting he called off once already.

'I did it once before,' he pointed out Friday at a Rose Garden news conference. 'You have to be able to walk away.'

For Kim to get a sustained audience with the president or a visit later in the negotiations to the White House, the Trump administration says North Korea will have to do more than exchange niceities.

A detailed task list and timetable for disarmament, however, has not been communicated by the U.S. government.

'I think it's a process. I've told you that many times before. I think it's not a one meeting deal,' Trump told reporters Thursday. 'It will be wonderful if it were.'

The U.S. president and former reality TV star insisted that the meeting will be 'at a minimum' the beginning of 'a good relationship' between himself and Kim.

'And that's something that's very important toward the ultimate making of a deal. I'd love to say it could happen in one deal, and maybe it can,' he said. 'They have to denuke. If they don't denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off; the sanctions are extraordinarily powerful.'

Trump's administration has been unwavering in its demand that North Korea must completely and verifiably end its nuclear weapons program to earn sanctions relief.

The Trump administration and North Korea have wildly different interpretations, though, of what it means to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

For North Korea, the Heritage Foundation's Bruce Klingner explains, denuclearization includes 'anything that impacts or influences' the land mass, including nuclear-capable submarines and aircraft in Guam.

'So if the president is going in and not realizing how North Korea defines things, and that if you don't have clearly delineated text,' he said, 'then you might agree to something verbally or on paper, where North Korea has a far different interpretation of it than the US. has.'

Pompeo has twice met with Kim since early April to lay the groundwork for this week's talks. He said Thursday that the U.S. had narrowed the gap between its vision of denuclearization and the one that's being used by North Korea during recent sessions, yet declined to say exactly where that leaves the two parties.

'What I have said publicly is he has indicated to me, personally, that he is prepared to denuclearize; that he understands that the current model doesn't work, that he's prepared to denuclearize,' Pompeo told journalists from the White House's podium.

Alluding to a failed deal with North Korea that former President Bill Clinton's administration brokered and one with Iran that Barack Obama's government signed and Trump last month withdrew from, Pompeo said Kim 'understands that we can't do it the way we've done it before' and that denuclearization cannot be a years-long process.

He allowed that 'this doesn't happen instantaneously' and will take time.

'But that the model for succeeding — security assurance; and political normalization; and denuclearization completely, verifiably, and irreversibly — for that to take place, we've got to make bold decisions,' he stated.

Trump has targeted North Korea with what his administration calls a 'maximum pressure' campaign meant to starve Kim of the resources and funding he needs to fully realize his country's long-held nuclear ambitions that he has pledged to keep in place into the brutal leader who ascended the throne in 2011 breaks.

The international sanctions levied by the United Nations, and layered on by the U.S., have mostly cut North Korea off from crude oil and outside transactions of any type.

'I could add a lot more, but I don't — I've chosen not to do that at this time,' Trump said Thursday in an admission that the U.S. is not using 'maximum pressure' to break North Korea. 'But that may happen,' he said during remarks in the Oval Office with visiting leader Shinzo Abe.

He said later, at a joint news conference with the Japanese prime minister, that use of the term 'maximum pressure' at all following his conversation with Kim should serve as a red flag to those reading the tea leaves about the outcome of the tete-a-tete.

'We don't use the term anymore because we're going into a friendly negotiation. Perhaps after that negotiation I will be using it again,' he stated. 'You'll know how well we do in the negotiation. If you hear me saying we're going to use 'maximum pressure,' you'll know the negotiation did not do well, frankly. There's no reason to say it.'

North Korea, for its part, was listening out for another term in the United States' rhetoric that it deemed too aggressive – the 'Libya model' for denuclearization. Kim's regime beat up both the president's national security adviser, John Bolton, and his vice president, Mike Pence, for using phrase that has historically negative connotations.

Libya's Muammar Gadhafi was ousted and executed following a voluntary abandonment of nuclear weapons that he thought would be accompanied by assistance and protection from the United States.

Gadhafi did not have a formal agreement with the U.S. like the one that Trump is pledging to strike with North Korea. Nor did he receive the type of assurances that he'd be propped up as Trump has done for Kim.

Trump says the U.S. will make sure that Kim remains in power if he denuclearizes. He has also floated economic prosperity, in the form of new investment from American companies, as a motivator for Kim to decide he's worthy of doing business with.

For Kim to take the enormous risk of ending the nuclear weapons program that made him a household name around the world to begin with, North Korea has said it will need hefty security assurances that it has not entirely outlined publicly.

Former CIA Director James Clapper says Trump should agree to a diplomatic presence in Pyongyang. The ex-spy chief says that Trump should recognize that Kim's regime is likely to ask for a commitment from the United States to pull back on its military presence on the peninsula.

'We should be mindful that that could easily be a two-way street in that the North Koreans could easily demand that we denuclearize, meaning no more B-1's, B-2's or B-52's on the Peninsula, or within operational proximity of the Peninsula,' Clapper said last week in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. 'And I hope we're ready to deal with that. They are paranoid about our bombers.' 

Trump said Thursday when it's all said and done he expects the normalization of relations between the U.S. and North Korea. He floated a peace agreement as a potential show of good faith.

'We're looking at it. We're talking about it with them. We're talking about it with a lot of other people. But that could happen,' he said at his news conference on Thursday. 'Sounds a little bit strange, but that's probably the easy part; the hard part remains after that.'

Klingner, an ex-CIA operative who is now a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, cautioned Trump against being too ready to sign an agreement, even one as benign on the surface as declaring peace, however.  

'Even if just a political declaration is made, that could have an impact on alliance deterrence capabilities, which would be dangerous if we don't first address the North Koran threat,' he told DailyMail.

He said any deal that Trump signs must include 'a clear commitment to denculearization' based on the United Nations' standards, not North Korea's, and it must include 'sufficient verification' that Kim has given up all of his nuclear weapons and production facilities.

Beatrice Finh, the executive director of The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), similarly said that a deal must include a timeline for disarmament and a requirement that competent international authorities carry out routine compliance checks. 

Finh said mandatory adoption of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty by both North Korea and the United States, which is a signatory to the UN-treaty but hasn't ratified it, should also be part of any accord that comes about.

'We need to see the international legal framework involved in this deal, not just whatever these two men like that come up with,' she stressed. 

In 2017, Finh accepted a Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN for the organization's work to implement the test ban treaty. 

She assessed ahead of Trump's meeting with Kim, 'There are no quick fixes to this. This is going to be a long process.

'Going to war is not an option, so we need to work together,' she said, ' and that's also why it important to bring in the international community and the legal framework that exists to build a kind of consistent stable ground for disarming nuclear weapons.'


The potential for a 'bad deal' that leaves America's allies in the region at risk was an issue uniting the left and the right heading into the summit. 

Schumer led a group of seven Senate Democrats in sending a letter to Trump last week stipulating what it would take for him to receive support for a deal in the split party Senate. 

They want a permanent ban on nuclear weapons, as well as language barring North Korean from further developing ballistic missiles.

'If President Trump meets with Kim Jong-un and receives a deal that truly lives up to these principles, he will have made the world a much safer place,' Schumer said during a call with reporters. 'But if he tries to reach a deal with Kim Jong-un, just for the sake of reaching a deal, and the agreement fails to live up to the principles we've laid out, then he'll have been bested at the negotiating table yet again.'

While Trump has not explicitly said that a deal with North Korea would have to include the demands made by Senate Democrats, he lodged a nearly identical list of complaints against the Iran nuclear deal that was brokered by the previous administration. 

Trump has since ended U.S. involvement in the nuclear accord on the grounds that it had a 10-year sunset clause for some operations and did not punish Tehran for the development of ballistic missiles.

He did not comment on the issue of ballistic missiles on Thursday in the Rose Garden as a dispute over short- and long-range missiles came up several times during a joint news conference with Japan's Abe.

Instead, it was the Japanese prime minister who said, 'On this point, between Japan and U.S. and international community share the same view. I am convinced about it.'

As a neighbor to North Korea, Japan is asserting that a deal must ban all ranges of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction and not just the ones with the ability to cross the Pacific to hit targets in the continental U.S.

Trump said Thursday that he was taking into consideration the concerns of all the major players in the region as he sits down with Kim to make a deal – such as South Korea's Moon Jae-in and China's Xi Jingping.

'President Xi of China has been terrific. The border has been certainly more closed than ever before. I'd like them to close it a little bit more, but it's been more closed than ever before,' Trump said of the leader who has become an unlikely friend of his. 'I give President Xi tremendous credit, and I give President Moon tremendous credit. He really would like to see something happen.'

He added, 'They've been living with the threat of war from their beginning, and it doesn't make sense. And I really believe that Kim Jong-un wants to do something. I think he wants to see something incredible happen for the people of North Korea.'

The pressure is on for Trump to come out of the summit with something tangible, even if his administration says that's not the point of the two-party talks - especially in the context of Trump's recent decision to withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear accord it entered into in 2015 with Iran, says Joel Rubin, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs who is an adjunct faculty member at Carnegie Mellon.  

'He can't come back from [talks with] North Korea with an agreement that's three pages after having just ripped up a several hundred page detailed document with Iran and have it pass the laugh test,' Rubin told  

The Iran deal, he noted, was the product of years of negotiations.

'So for the president to go to a summit first, is not how it's typically done. It's usually done after most of these issues have been hammered out and there's clarity on the objectives,' he said. 'They want to do it differently, so, OK, good, let them him do it differently, and I think there's value in having him engage. 

'But he needs to stay engaged and he needs to find what they want in order for it to really be an effective negotiation,' Rubin said.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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