Historic Trump-Kim summit concludes with signing ‘comprehensive’ document – International news

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SINGAPORE – Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a largely symbolic summit on Tuesday, and the US president offered an unexpected concession to the North, saying he would halt joint military exercises with South Korea.

The two men smiled and shook hands before pledging at their historic summit to work toward the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. The United States promised its Cold War foe security guarantees.

Viewers tune in to historic Trump-Kim summit, June 12, 2018 (Reuters)The meeting in Singapore, the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, was in stark contrast to a flurry of North Korean nuclear and missile tests and angry exchanges of insults between Trump and Kim last year that fueled global worries about war.

But in a joint statement afterward, the two men offered few specifics about the relationship would evolve.

Noting North Korean promises in the past to denuclearize, several analysts cast doubt on how effective Trump had been at obtaining his pre-summit goal of banishing North Korea’s “very substantial” nuclear arsenal.

At a news conference later, Trump made a surprise announcement that was sure to rattle South Korea and Japan, which rely on a US security umbrella, saying he would halt the regular military exercises the United States holds with South Korea because they were expensive and “very provocative.” North Korea has long sought an end to the exercises.

The summit gave international standing to Kim, one of the world’s most reclusive leaders. His government is under UN sanctions for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The Trump administration said repeatedly before the summit that Washington was seeking steps by North Korea toward complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of a nuclear program that is advanced enough to pose a threat to the United States.

Several experts said the meeting failed to secure any concrete commitments by Pyongyang toward this. The statement also did not refer to human rights in one of the world’s most repressive nations.

Trump said at the news conference he expected the denuclearization process to start “very, very quickly” and it would be verified by “having a lot of people in North Korea.” He said Kim had announced that North Korea was destroying a major missile engine-testing site, but sanctions on North Korea would stay in place for now.

It was unclear if negotiations would lead to denuclearization, or end with broken promises, as happened in the past, said Anthony Ruggiero, senior fellow at Washington’s Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank.

“This looks like a restatement of where we left negotiations more than 10 years ago and not a major step forward,” he said.

The joint statement, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said “President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Kim said after the summit he and Trump had “decided to leave the past behind. The world will see a major change.”

Trump’s meeting with Kim, who he described in warm terms at the news conference, followed days of berating traditional US allies such as Canada and Germany in trade disputes. He left a Group of Seven summit in Canada early last weekend, and described host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as “very dishonest and weak.”

WAR GAMES SURPRISE

Trump’s announcement that he would stop military exercises with old ally South Korea was a surprise even to the government in Seoul, which has worked over recent months to help bring about the Trump-Kim summit.

South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it needed “to find out the precise meaning or intentions” of Trump’s statement, while adding that it was willing to “explore various measures to help the talks move forward more smoothly.”

Pentagon officials were not immediately able to provide any details about Trump’s remarks about suspending drills, something that the US military has long resisted.

A spokeswoman for US military forces in Korea said it had not received any direction to cease joint military drills.

“USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises – to include this fall’s schedule Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” US Forces in Korea spokeswoman Lieutenant Colonel Jennifer Lovett said in a statement.

“In coordination with our (South Korean) partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance.”

Trump and Kim appeared cautious and serious when they arrived for the summit at the Capella hotel on Singapore’s resort island of Sentosa.

Body language experts said they both tried to project command as they met, but also displayed signs of nerves. After a handshake, they were soon smiling and holding each other by the arm, before Trump guided Kim to a library where they met with only their interpreters.

North Korea has long rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament, instead referring to the denuclearization of the peninsula. That has always been interpreted as a call for the United States to remove its “nuclear umbrella” protecting South Korea and Japan.

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