Trump Kim summit: US president hails deal after historic talks

Business

US President Donald Trump says his historic talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that ended in a joint agreement were “tremendous”.

The signed document includes a pledge from Mr Kim to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

But in an extraordinary media conference later, Mr Trump announced details not in the paper.

He said he would halt US military exercises in South Korea, something widely seen as a concession.

The meeting was the first time a sitting US president has met North Korea’s leader, and caps a remarkable turnaround for the two.

Last year saw the pair sling insults at each other, while North Korea conducted several ballistic missile tests in defiance of the international community.

What did they agree?

The summit centred on nuclear disarmament and reducing tensions.

The agreement said the two countries would co-operate towards “new relations”, while the US would provide “security guarantees” to North Korea.

On nuclear weapons, Mr Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Observers say the document lacks substance, in particular on how denuclearisation would be achieved.

However, speaking to reporters after, Mr Trump said:

  • The US would suspend “provocative” war games it holds with South Korea. Mr Trump said he wanted to see US troops withdraw from the South. Analysts have said this is a major concession
  • On denuclearisation, he said that Mr Kim had agreed to it being “verified”, a key US demand ahead of the meeting
  • Mr Trump said Mr Kim had also agreed to destroy a “major missile engine testing site”
  • But he said sanctions would remain in place for now and argued “we haven’t given up anything”

Several reporters asked whether Mr Trump had raised the issue of human rights with Mr Kim, who runs a totalitarian regime with extreme censorship and forced-labour camps.

The US president said he had, and did not retract his description of Mr Kim as “talented”.

“Well, he is very talented,” Mr Trump said. “Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I don’t say he was nice.”

What’s the reaction been?

There has been a positive response to the summit from other key powers in the region.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who held his own meeting with Mr Kim earlier this year, said the “two Koreas and US will write new history of peace and co-operation”.

A spokesman, though, also said the “exact meaning and intention” of what Mr Trump had said “needs to be assessed”.

China, North Korea’s only major diplomatic and economic ally, also said the meeting created a “new history”. The foreign ministry said sanctions on North Korea could be eased if it stuck to UN resolutions.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised President Trump’s “leadership and effort”, saying he supported North Korea’s pledge on denuclearisation as “a step towards the comprehensive resolution of issues around North Korea”.

How the day unfolded

The summit began with a striking image, unimaginable just months ago.

The two men walked towards each other and firmly gripped each other’s hands in front of US and North Korean flags.

Sitting alongside each other, ahead of a one-on-one meeting, the pair appeared relaxed against the odds.

“It was not easy to get here,” Mr Kim said. “There were obstacles but we overcame them to be here.”

The two men, accompanied only by interpreters, spoke for a little under 40 minutes. They were then joined by small delegations of advisers for a working lunch.

Over lunch they shared a mix of Western and Korean dishes, including stuffed cucumbers and Daegu jorim, a soy-braised fish dish.

Alice Nachilembe

Alice Nachilembe is a Journalist who yearns for a better country with leaders being accountable to their mandate without oppressing the governed.

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