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24th June 2018

Trump-Kim Singapore Summit Ends with a Promise to Suspend Military Exercises

 By a press release (13/06/18)

President Donald Trump spoke about his agreement yesterday with Kim Jong-un for peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

 

Trump also reveal plans to invite the North Korean leader to the White House. President Trump, after a daylong historic summit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un on Tuesday, announced plans to suspend military exercises on the Korean Peninsula and said he expected Mr. Kim to move “very quickly” to dismantle his country’s nuclear arsenal. (Photo: Historic walk during Trump-Kim summit in Singapore).

The summit meeting was the first of its kind between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader, and it ended in a joint statement that opened the door to ending seven decades of hostility between the two countries.

Mr. Trump said at a news conference that the United States would stop “the war games,” in what appeared to be a concession to the North. He said the exercises were expensive and “very provocative,” though both the Pentagon and South Korean military were caught off guard by the announcement.
 


In a joint statement after the leaders’ first face-to-face meeting, the United States “committed to provide security guarantees” to the North. In exchange, Mr. Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But Mr. Trump said economic sanctions against North Korea would remain in place.

• The two leaders first met privately for less than an hour in a one-on-one session with interpreters present, before breaking off for a larger meeting and then a working lunch with aides.

• The leaders signed their joint statement, in which the United States committed to providing guarantees of security to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization.

• “We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind,” Mr. Kim said as he and Mr. Trump signed the joint statement, adding, “The world will see a major change.”

Mr. Trump was similarly optimistic saying, “We are going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world.”

• Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim departed Singapore hours after their meeting. See photos from the summit.

In the joint statement, Mr. Trump “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea. Mr. Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

But the statement was short on details and did not lay out potential next steps or a timetable. It was not immediately released to reporters, but was legible in a photo of Mr. Trump holding it up at the ceremony.

The statement said the two nations would hold “follow-on negotiations” led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a high-level North Korean official “at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes” of the summit meeting.

The statement also said the two nations would “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the divided Korean Peninsula, meaning talks to reduce military tensions that could eventually lead to a formal peace treaty to end the Korean War.

During a meeting in Singapore, Donald Trump presented Kim Jong-un with a short video depicting the prosperity that could come with peace. James Poniewozik, The Times’s chief television critic, tells us the video’s cartoonish, idealized aesthetic was no accident.

Mr. Trump presented Mr. Kim with a short video depicting the prosperity that could come with peace. The video, which was shown to journalists before Mr. Trump’s news conference, was a hyperbolic movie-trailer-style montage of many, many images, both positive and dire.

Among them: airplanes, bridges, skyscrapers, smiling children, American armaments, missile launches, postwar devastation, high-speed trains, a basketball player dunking a ball and horses running through water.

“There comes a time when only a few are called upon to make a difference, but the question is: What difference will the few make?” intones a narrator in the English-language version of the video. “The past doesn’t have to be the future. Out of the darkness can come the light.”

American and South Korean officials were surprised by Mr. Trump’s plans to end “war games” on the Korean Peninsula. Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett, a United States military spokeswoman in South Korea, said in an email that the American command there “has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises - to include this fall’s schedule Ulchi Freedom Guardian. We will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense,” she added.

Mr. Trump’s statement that he was suspending joint military exercises with South Korea also stunned many South Koreans. The annual exercises have been an integral part of the alliance with the United States that forms the bulwark of South Korea’s defenses against the North.

Mr. Trump’s pronouncement raised fears that Washington was making concessions before North Korea had actually dismantled its nuclear weapons. The South Korean Defense Ministry issued a curt statement saying that it was trying to determine Mr. Trump’s intentions.

Despite the uncertainty, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea celebrated the meeting’s outcome, calling it “a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on earth.”

“I pay my high compliments for the courage and determination of the two leaders, President Trump and Chairman Kim, not to settle for that outdated and familiar reality but to take a daring step toward change,” Mr. Moon said.

“Once again, I would like to pay my respects to President Trump, who achieved a feat that no one else has ever delivered,” he said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo watching a short, melodramatic video that was shown to journalists before a post-summit news conference.

At the end of their meeting, Mr. Kim pledged to destroy a missile-engine testing site, Mr. Trump told reporters, in what he characterized as a last-minute decision that was not included in the joint agreement.

“I got that after we signed the agreement,” Mr. Trump said of the concession. “I said, ‘Do me a favor; we’ve got this missile-engine testing site. We know where it is because of the heat.’ It’s incredible the equipment we have, to be honest with you.”

Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was detained in North Korea, in 2016. The death of Otto Warmbier, an American college student who was detained in North Korea, helped precipitate the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, the president said on Tuesday at a post-summit meeting news conference. “I think without Otto this would not have happened,” Mr. Trump said. “Otto was someone who did not die in vain.”

Mr. Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia, was arrested in North Korea in 2016. He was repatriated to the United States in a coma after 17 months in detention and then died.

“The United States once again condemns the brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim,” Mr. Trump said in a statement at the time of Mr. Warmbier’s death.

Mr. Trump took questions from journalists in his hourlong solo news conference after the summit meeting. Mr. Trump, who was a developer before he became president, focused on one particular economic prospect for North Korea: real estate.

“As an example, they have great beaches,” he said during a news conference after his meeting with Mr. Kim. “You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean. I said, ‘Boy, look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo?’”

“You could have the best hotels in the world right there,” Mr. Trump continued. “Think of it from a real estate perspective. You have South Korea, you have China and they own the land in the middle. How bad is that, right? It’s great.”

Of the 82,000 American service members still missing from the wars of the past century, 7,702 are from the Korean War. For Americans who never got to bury loved ones killed in the Korean War, the summit meeting offered new hope.

The joint statement signed by both leaders said their two countries were committed to recovering and repatriating the remains of soldiers who were designated captured or missing at the end of the conflict in 1953.

Of the 82,000 American service members still missing from the wars of the past century, 7,702 are from the Korean War, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which is responsible for recovering missing personnel from around the world. An estimated 120,000 South Korean troops and police officers are also unaccounted for in the Korean War.

Mr. Trump, in his post-meeting news conference, said he had received “countless calls and letters” from family members asking him to discuss the issue with Mr. Kim. “The remains will be coming back,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re going to start that process immediately.”

President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, center, watching coverage of the summit meeting from Seoul. China takes credit for summit, but is underwhelmed by results. China welcomed the news from Singapore and patted itself on the back. “I think nobody can doubt the extremely unique and important role China has played,” said Wang Yi, the foreign minister.

Chinese newspapers reported on the Trump-Kim meeting. The government in Beijing celebrated the joint statement, but some academics were underwhelmed. Mr. Wang may have been so pleased because of Mr. Trump’s decision to suspend military exercises on the Korean Peninsula.

China floated that idea last year, suggesting that the North suspend its weapons program in exchange for an end to American military exercises. Chinese experts on North Korea, however, were underwhelmed by the summit meeting’s outcome.

“Well below my expectation,” Cheng Xiaohe of Renmin University said of the joint statement. “Full of empty talk that has already been said before. So far Trump has failed to prove himself a dealmaker.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized the president’s seemingly cozy relationship with North Korea and said the declaration signed by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim was “very light on details” in a statement hours after the meeting. “Talking to dictators is one thing; embracing them is another,” Mr. Biden said. While Mr. Trump gained little from the meeting, the North Koreans had much to gain, he said.

Mr. Biden urged the president to remember the “horrendous human rights abuses North Korean leaders perpetrate against their own people” and called Mr. Trump’s claim that preparation for the meeting was unimportant “inexcusable and irresponsible.”

“North Korea gained the legitimacy of a meeting with the American president; the easing of the international economic and sanctions pressure, carefully built over the last two administrations; and the suspension of our military readiness exercises with South Korea - a decision apparently made without consulting our ally,” Mr. Biden said in his statement.

President Trump boarding Air Force One as he left Singapore ahead of schedule. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim departed Singapore just hours after their meeting. Mr. Trump flew out ahead of schedule, leaving just before 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday. He had initially planned to leave early Wednesday, but said his plans had changed.

“There was nothing more we could have done. We had the agreement done,” Mr. Trump said when speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One ahead of the flight, according to pool reports. “I think he wants to get it done,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Kim’s willingness to denuclearize, adding that he trusted the North Korean leader.

When asked how he planned to verify that North Korea would follow through on these promises, Mr. Trump provided little detail. “We’re going to have to check it, and we will check it,” Mr. Trump said. “We’ll check it very strongly.” President Trump’s plane touched down in Guam early Wednesday to refuel.

Mr. Kim departed Singapore around 11 p.m. on an Air China flight, according to Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information. The ministry shared photos of a smiling Mr. Kim shaking hands with Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s minister of foreign affairs.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim filed into a working lunch with their expanded entourages, and hamburgers were not on the menu. Mr. Trump, you may remember, famously said early in his campaign that he was willing to sit down with Mr. Kim and perhaps have a hamburger with him.

Instead, their first meal together at the Capella on Sentosa Island in Singapore included beef short rib confit, Korean stuffed cucumber and sweet and sour crispy pork with Yangzhou fried rice. According to the menu released by the White House, dessert included a dark chocolate tartlet ganache — perhaps in honor of Mr. Trump’s preference for chocolate cake. The White House did not indicate whether it had been flown over from Mar-a-Lago. When Mr. Trump played host to President Xi Jinping of China, he boasted about serving “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen.” In deference to Mr. Kim, there was also another Korean dish, Daegu jorim, described as soy braised cod fish with radish and Asian vegetables.

Reporting was contributed by Russell Goldman from Hong Kong, Mark Landler and Motoko Rich from Singapore, Choe Sang-Hun from Seoul, South Korea, Richard Pérez-Peña and Michael Wolgelenter from London, Eric Schmitt from Washington, Megan Specia from New York and Jose A. Del Real from Los Angeles.

Courtesy: By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS on Publish Date June 12, 2018. Photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times

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