Trump-Kim summit: Leaders sign 'comprehensive' document; Kim says world will see major change

SINGAPORE  (The Straits Times/ANN)-  US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a "comprehensive" document on Tuesday (June 12) outlining a joint commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, capping a once unthinkable meeting of foes with an important but tentative step towards peace. 

In exchange for Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear programme, Washington pledged to stop joint military exercises with Seoul - long an irritant of the North Korean regime.

But sanctions will remain until complete denuclearisation takes place - a process Mr Trump said would take a long time.

The agreement reaffirmed the Panmunjom Declaration signed by Mr Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In in April. And like that declaration, the document signed in Singapore did not lay out a clear timeline for North Korea's denuclearisation.

Still, speaking at a news conference at the Capella Singapore hotel on Sentosa island, Mr Trump said Mr Kim gave his “unwavering commitment” to work towards denuclearisation  and they are prepared to “write a new chapter” between their countries.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Kim, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission,  said: "Today we had a very historic meeting, overcoming our past history and embarking on a new beginning...the world will see a major change."

Mr Trump, in turn, said a turning point has been reached in the long fraught US-North Korea relationship. "We're both going to do something, and we've developed a very special bond...we're going to take care of a very big and dangerous problem for the rest of the world.
"It worked out far better for both of us than anybody could have expected," he added.

The two leaders signed the document at an 80-year-old, 4.3 m-long teak wood table once used by Singapore’s Chief Justices and on loan from the National Gallery.

They sat side by side at the table and were flanked on either side by American and North Korean flags. 

The day had started with a historic handshake between the two leaders at the hotel.

At 9.04am, Mr Trump and Mr Kim strode into the courtyard from separate sides, stood face to face for the first time and shared a 12-second handshake against a backdrop of American and North Korean flags.

The moment - tightly choreographed, with both men walking out at exactly the same time - was the culmination of weeks of uncertainty, false starts and finally, frenetic preparations on the part of the US, North Korea and Singapore.

From that point forward, the superlatives flowed. When asked how he felt as they sat down for talks, Mr Trump said: "I feel really great.  We’re going to have a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success. It will be tremendously successful. And it's my honour. And we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt."

Mr Kim said: "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. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today".

A 41-minute one-on-one meeting ended with the two leaders smiling and waving to the media from a balcony and Mr Trump saying the discussion was "very very good".

Then at the extended bilateral meeting, Mr Kim said he believed the summit was a "great prelude to peace", to which Mr Trump agreed. "Of course there will be difficulties along the way, but as of today, a day that a good start has been made, I am determined to start a grand undertaking together," he added. 

After the signing ceremony, Mr Trump told the media: "We had a terrific day and we learnt a lot about each other and our countries." 

Calling Mr Kim "a very worthy, very smart negotiator", Mr Trump said: "He's a very talented man, I also learnt that he loves his country very much." He added: "We'll meet again, we'll meet many times"

When asked if  he would invite Mr Kim to the White House, Mr Trump said: “Absolutely, I will.”

It was a remarkable turnaround from last year when the two leaders traded insults and threats as Pyongyang conducted a series of ballistic missile tests.

Mr Kim acknowledged the historic moment on Tuesday morning when he was heard telling Mr Trump through a translator: “I think the entire world is watching this moment. Many people in the world will think of this as a scene from a fantasy... science fiction movie.”

The two sides also had a working lunch. Before they sat down, Mr Trump told the media to get a good photo. "Getting a good picture everybody? So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.”

Lunch was a nine-course meal with both Western and Asian flavours, according to the White House. The starters included mango kerabu – a Malay salad – and oiseon or Korean stuffed cucumbers and the main dishes were beef short rib confit and sweet and sour crispy pork with Yangzhou fried rice. Dessert included dark chocolate tartlet ganache and Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream with cherry coulis. 

The US delegation included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and National Security Council senior director for Asia Matt Pottinger joined the working lunch.

The North Korean delegation included vice-chairman of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, Mr Kim Yong Chol, party vice-chairman and director of North Korea's International Affairs Department Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui.

COUNTRIES WELCOME HISTORIC TALKS
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote on his Facebook page after the summit: "It is a crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on a denuclearised Korean Peninsula, which would benefit our region and the rest of the world.

"I wrote to Mr Kim and Mr Trump to congratulate them on a successful summit. Singapore is honoured to have played host. We join the international community in celebrating this outcome, and wishing both the US and DPRK success in implementing this agreement,'' said Mr Lee, referring to North Korea by its formal name - Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

South Korean President Moon Jae In also hailed the summit, calling it a "historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy". 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the talks were an important first step. “I support this as a first step to the comprehensive resolution of issues concerning North Korea.”  

China praised the summit and urged   full denuclearisation by North Korea. “The crux of the peninsula nuclear issue is a security issue. The most  difficult part of this security issue is for the United States and North Korea to sit down to find a way to resolution through equal talks,” said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. 

"At the same time, there needs to be a peace mechanism for the Korean peninsula to resolve North Korea’s reasonable security concerns,” he added.  

TIGHT SECURITY, BUZZ IN THE CITY 
There was an unprecedented level of security around the summit venue and the two luxury hotels where the two leaders stayed after they arrived in Singapore on Sunday (June 10). 

Roads and expressways leading from St Regis Singapore and Shangri-La hotel were locked down on Tuesday morning as the  leaders made their way to the Capella hotel on Sentosa, with many people gathered at different spots along the route, trying to catch a glimpse of the leaders.

Property agent Joe Tham, 48, and his wife, who had waited outside Paya Lebar Air Base on Sunday for Mr Trump's arrival, brought chairs for the wait for Mr Kim in Tanglin Road.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment... it's very important to Singapore, and we want to be a part of it, to witness it," he said.

Housewife Gladys Tan, 55, who lives near Shangri-La Hotel, said it was her second time waiting for Mr Trump, but she still could not see him through the tinted car window.

"I tried very, very hard but the glass is so black, I couldn't see anything. Or maybe my eyesight is just poor... I couldn't wave at him so I waved at the policemen on motorbike. Consolation prize!" she said.

The perimetre of the Capella hotel was fortified with road blocks on one side. Coast guard vessels patrolled the waters off the resort's beach.

Some curious onlookers turned up early on Sentosa to catch a glimpse of the convoys. Among them were students Gideon Tan, 16, Aryan Singh, 16, and Joshua Tan, 17. 

Joshua, a keen reader of politics and history, said it would be ideal if Mr Kim could commit to immediate denuclearisation and he  hoped that Mr Trump can provide the security assurance that North Korea wants. 

About 5,000 Home Team officers were deployed for the summit.

All in, Singapore spent about $20 million to host the historic meeting, which included picking up the North Korean contingent's hotel bill.

Prime Minister Lee said that the significance of the meeting meant it was a price that Singapore was willing to pay.

"If you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the real important things. And, in this case, what is important is that the summit is held, and we are hosting it, not extravagantly but with due consideration to costs, but making sure operational requirements are met," he said. 

Mr Trump and Mr Kim thanked Singapore for hosting the summit during separate bilateral meetings with PM Lee at the Istana. 

The US president left Singapore after the press conference at Capella hotel on Tuesday.

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