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'The world will see a major change': Trump and Kim hail summit as historic breakthrough

The first-ever summit between sitting leaders of the two Cold War foes went “better than anybody could have expected”, Trump said.

Updated Jun 12th 2018, 10:55 AM

Trump Kim Summit President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island. Source: Evan Vucci

DONALD TRUMP AND Kim Jong Un hailed their historic summit today 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 dynastic dictatorship, 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.

And in a blockbusting press conference after the summit, Trump said the US would halt military exercises with Seoul – a long-term irritant for Pyongyang, which claims they are a rehearsal for invasion.

Earlier, Trump said that the first-ever summit between sitting leaders of the two Cold War foes went “better than anybody could have expected”.

The pair signed the joint document which Trump called a “very important document, a pretty comprehensive document”.

In it, Kim commits to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

Meanwhile, the US commits to providing “security guarantees” to the North.

Kim called it an “historic meeting” and that the leaders had “decided to leave the past behind”.

Trump Kim Summit US President Donald Trump answers questions about the summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during a press conference at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island. Source: Evan Vucci/PA

“The world will see a major change. I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump for making this meeting happen,” he said.

The world will see a major change.

After this, they shook hands and signed the documents.

Asked about denuclearisation – the crux of the summit – following the meeting between Trump said, “we’re starting that process”, adding that it would begin “very, very quickly.

Speaking to reporters, he said there would be a process of verification involving “a lot of people”, but gave no concrete details.

He also insisted that US sanctions would remain in place until Washington had seen progress.

He also said he would “absolutely” be willing to invite Kim to the White House after their meeting.

Denuclearisation 

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.”

Historic handshake

Earlier, the pair shared warm words and a historic handshake as they sought to confront a nuclear stand-off and enmity stretching back decades.

The two men shook hands for several seconds beneath the white-washed walls of an upscale hotel in neutral Singapore, Trump reaching out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder, before sitting down for a half-day of meetings with major ramifications for the region and the world.

Trump Kim Summit US President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un walk from their lunch at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Source: Evan Vucci/PA

The encounter was unthinkable just months ago, when fears of war mounted amid the missile tests and verbal insults.

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.

For his part, the North’s leader referred to the two countries’ history of war and acrimony, but noted the fact of their meeting showed they could overcome the past.

Sitting across from Trump at a small side table, Kim told the US president through a translator:

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,” he went on, his listener looking him in the eye and nodding.

But we overcame all of them and we are here today.

Trump responded: “That’s true”, before another handshake – smiling this time – and a thumbs-up from the US president.

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.

‘Fire and fury’

Critics have said the mere fact of the meeting meant Trump was legitimising Kim – whose regime is accused of widespread human rights abuses.

Trump told reporters that he had raised the issue of human rights “strongly”.

“We will be doing something on it. It’s rough. It’s rough in a lot of places, by the way,” he added.

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.

But many agreements have been made in the past with North Korea that have later fallen apart.

© – AFP 2018 with reporting from AP

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