June 12, 2018 19:32
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday ended their historic summit in Singapore with a vaguely worded agreement that disappointed many who had hoped for a firmer commitment to denuclearization.
The two leaders met with plenty of photo ops and little time for talk at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa.
Kim committed himself only to working "towards" denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a broad church that leaves open the possibility of mutual disarmament talks rather than unilateral scrapping of his nuclear program.
The joint agreement contained four bullet points and little substance other than a commitment "to hold follow-on negotiations... at the earliest possible date," but fell short of acknowledging the oft-repeated U.S. demand for "complete, verifiable and irreversible" dismantlement.
The two sides also committed themselves to establishing "new" bilateral relations and making joint efforts to build "lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula," referencing Kim's agreement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.
Kim also promised to let the U.S. recover the remains of soldiers taken prisoner or missing during the Korean War including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Trump declared himself delighted with the meeting, having previously warned he could walk out if things did not go his way. "We had a really fantastic meeting, a lot of progress, very positive. I think better than anybody could have expected," he told reporters.
In a solo press conference that wrapped up the summit, Trump said he "didn't have time" to include the concrete details of denuclearization in the agreement but claimed Kim had fully committed himself to the process. He admitted that the meeting was just the start of a long road. "Because there's no time. I'm here one day, we're together for many hours intensively, but the process is now going to take place," he added.
Lavishing praise on Moon -- "a very, very fine gentleman" -- and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while downplaying the role of China, Trump then managed to alarm South Koreans with a throwaway promise to end "war games" with South Korea, which he called "very expensive" and "very provocative."
The two leaders were wreathed in smiles. Signing the agreement, Kim said, "Today we have had a historic meeting, we decided to leave the past behind. The world will see a major change. I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump for making this meeting happen." Trump also had high praise for Kim, describing him as "very talented" and a man who "loves his country very much."
Trump left Singapore in the late afternoon and Kim returns to Pyongyang at around 10 p.m. via Beijing.
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