Donald Trump has said that his unprecedented talks with Kim Jong-un have gone “better than anybody could have expected” and that he is “absolutely” willing to invite the North Korean leader to the White House.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim signed what Mr Trump called a “comprehensive” document following a historic summit aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. There were mo immediate details on the contents of the document.
Mr Kim, who has been granted a measure of international legitimacy with the summit, said the two leaders had “decided to leave the past behind. The world will see a major change.”
Mr Trump said the process of denuclearisation would happen “very, very quickly”, adding that he had formed a “special bond” with Mr Kim.
In the first meeting of a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, Mr Trump and Mr Kim converged at a luxury resort on Singapore’s Sentosa Island, clasping hands as they stood on a red carpet in front of a backdrop of alternating US and North Korean flags. Mr Trump was first to arrive at the summit site, followed by Mr Kim, both readying for the 9am meeting that culminated dizzying weeks of negotiations over logistics and policy.
But in an apparent major policy shift, Mr Trump adds that “we will be stopping the war games”.
He adds the move will “save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see that the future negotiation is not going along like it should”.
North Korea has long railed against joint US-South Korean military exercises which are held annually, claiming they are preparations for an invasion.
Mr Trump says he believes the exercises are “very provocative”.
Asked about the “security assurances” Mr Trump said he would give North Korea, and whether it meant a reduction in military deployments in the region, the president says “we’re not reducing anything”.
He says: “At some point, I have to be honest, and I used to say this during my campaign … I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home.
“We have, right now, 32,000 soldiers in South Korea, and I’d like to be able to bring them back home. But that’s not part of the equation right now.”
Without the death of Otto Warmbier, Mr Trump says, “this would not have happened”.
He adds: “It was a terrible thing, it was brutal, but a lot of people started to focus on what was going on.”
Mr Kim’s human rights crimes are put to Mr Trump and he is asked why he calls the dictator “very talented”.
He says: “Well, he is very talented. 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 it was nice, or I don’t say anything about it – very few people at that age, you can take one out of 10,000, probably.”
So many journalists in one room “makes me feel very uncomfortable”, Mr Trump jokes as he prepares to take questions.
Mr Trump says that North Korea is already dismantling a “major missile engine testing site” – a concession not mentioned in the signed document, he says. “We agreed to that after the agreement was signed.”
“Chairman Kim has before him an opportunity like no other” for a “glorious new era of security and prosperity”, Mr Trump says.
China has suggested it may relax punishing sanctions on North Korea in the wake of the agreement signed between Pyongyang and the US.
China is the North’s sole major ally and economic backer, but agreed to impose stronger sanctions at the behest of Washington after Kim Jong-un’s regime conducted a string of provocative missile and nuclear tests.
Speaking in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said: “The UN Security Council resolutions that have been passed say that if North Korea respects and acts in accordance with the resolutions, then sanction measures can be adjusted, including to pause or remove the relevant sanctions.
“China has consistently held that sanctions are not the goal in themselves. The Security Council’s actions should support and conform to the efforts of current diplomatic talks towards denuclearising the Korean peninsula, and promote a political solution for the peninsula.”
Beijing’s has long feared that a collapse of its isolated neighbour could push many thousands of refugees into northeastern China, or that nuclear war on the peninsula could contaminate swathes of the country.
Mr Trump signals an official end to the Korean War may be in sight. “Now we can all hope that it will soon end, and it will,” he says.
Discussions were “honest, direct and productive”, Mr Trump said.
Mr Trump is now speaking at the press conference.
- The film shown to journalists was one given to Mr Kim by Mr Trump, he says
- North Korea “has the potential to be a great place” and “tremendous potential”
- Kim Jong-un “wants to do the right thing”, Mr Trump says, as he has before
- The US President says he wants to bring “a message of hope and vision, and a message of peace”
Donald Trump is holding a press conference
Live footage from the room where Mr Trump is to give his press conference appears to show two screens displaying stylised, propaganda-style videos to journalists as they await the US president.
Donald Trump has just tweeted a video of clips from the last few hours, set to stirring and inspirational music, put together by the White House.
In an interview with ABC News, Mr Trump just confirmed this summit was not the first time he’s spoken with Kim Jong-un. He said they’d previously spoken on the phone.
It concludes that Trump and Kim have committed to develop new relations between their two countries, and to cooperate “for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean peninsula and of the world”.
The document has no timeframe. It says the two leaders commit to fulfil the bullet-pointed commitments “expeditiously”.
It says follow-up talks will take place between the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and an undesignated “relevant high-level DPRK official”, at “the earliest possible date”.
The document also says the leaders “conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions”.
Trump “committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK”, it says, and “Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
The document contains four key statements, bullet-pointed as you can see in the image in the previous post. Zooming in a bit, they are:
- The US and North Korea commit to establish new relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
More details emerging from what is in that document signed by Trump and Kim. A copy hasn’t yet been given out to the media but – conveniently – Mr Trump played his usual trick of holding it up for the camera.
This snap – again from AFP’s Saul Loeb – reveals what’s in the document.
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The pair started the momentous Singapore summit with an historic handshake for the world’s media before getting down to talks about North Korea’s nuclear programme.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim met one on one for about 40 minutes— joined only by translators. Then aides to each joined it for more discussions and a working lunch.
The US president said that the meetings went “better than anybody could have expected” after the pair emerged from lunch and strolled together down a paved walkway before stopping and posing before the waiting news media.
Mr Trump said the meeting is “going great. We had a really fantastic meeting”. He added that there has been “a lot of progress. Really very positive”
It is believed that the signing will likely revolve around a promise to keep meeting.
The White House said discussions with North Korea have moved “more quickly than expected” and Mr Trump would leave Singapore on Tuesday night, after the summit. He had earlier been scheduled to leave on Wednesday. Mr Trump will visit military bases in Guam and Hawaii on his way back to Washington.
Teams of officials from both sides held working-level talks on Monday.
Senior officials travelling with Mr Trump include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. As Mr Trump was travelling to the Capella Hotel which was the site of the summit, he surprisingly tweeted about another senior official – economic adviser Larry Kudlow – with Mr Trump saying he had had a heart attack. The White House later said that Mr Kudlow was in a good condition in hospital having suffered a “very mild” heart attack.
Mr Kim’s delegation consists of Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Defence Minister No Kwang Chol and Kim Yong Chol, a close aide of Kim who has been instrumental in the diplomacy that culminated in Tuesday’s summit.
Kim Yo Jong, leader Kim’s younger sister, was also spotted in his delegation. She emerged as an influential figure in Pyongyang’s opaque leadership in February, when she led a North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
When Mr Trump initially agreed to meet with the North Korean leader, the US president spoke of his hope that their encounter could secure a major breakthrough and lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
If so, then the meeting would be the most important since Ronald Reagan met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva in November 1985.
Mr Trump has since sought to play down expectations, saying that the meeting will be an important first step, but that securing a deal will likely take many more meetings.
Given that what the US wants to get out of the summit, a rapid denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, may be different to what North Korea wants, there may be many such meetings. Many observers will be looking to see whether Mr Trump does extend an invitation to his counterpart to visit the White House.