Trump, Kim sign denuclearization deal in ‘new chapter’
By Rebecca Kheel and Jordan Fabian
President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement Tuesday committing the United States to unspecified “security guarantees” in exchan for a denuclearized Korean peninsula, as Trump said the two were ready “to write a new chapter” between the nations.
The agreement and a surprise decision by Trump to call off joint military exercises with South Korea capped an historic summit that represented the first ever meeting between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
“I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean peninsula is going to be a very different situation than it has in the past,” Trump said at a signing ceremony on the agreement.
“We’ve developed a very special bond,” he said of his relationship with Kim. Trump added that he would “absolutely” invite Kim to the White House to continue their talks.
Kim called the document “historic” and said it would lead to a new era in the U.S.-North Korea relationship.
“We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind, and we are about to sign a historic document,” he said through a translator. “The world will see a major change.”
Kim also thanked Trump for making “this meeting happen.”
Photos of Trump at the signing ceremony holding up the document, which was not immediately released to the press, revealed its contents.
President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to [North Korea], and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the statement said.
Trump called the document “pretty comprehensive” despite its lack of specifics.
“I think both sides are going to be impressed with the result,” Trump told reporters. “We’re going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world.”
The statement touts the “great significance” of the “epochal event” of the first ever U.S-North Korea summit, adding it will help the “opening of a new future.”
The document does not elaborate on what steps the United States will take to guarantee North Korea’s security, nor does it lay out the steps North Korea will need to take to denuclearize.
It does commit to holding further negotiations led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a “relevant” North Korean official at “the earliest date possible.”
The statement refers to denuclearization of the entire Korean
peninsula, North Korea’s favored language. And while the United States
in the past has demanded so-called CVID — or complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization — the statement does not include the words “verifiable” and “irreversible.”
Asked at press conference later Tuesday whether the exclusion of those two words was a concession, Trump said “not at all.”
Trump and Kim agreed to four broad commitments, according to the signed document: to establish new U.S.-North Korean relations “in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity;” to join “efforts to build a lasting and stable peace” on the peninsula;” to reaffirm the declaration Kim signed at his summit with South Korea’s president; and to recover the remains of Americans lost or killed during the Korean War.
At the press conference, Trump in particular touted the commitment on repatriating Korean War remains, saying he had received “countless calls” and letters from asking for help on the issue.
“The remains will be coming back,” Trump said. “They’re going to start that process immediately.”
The signing ceremony concluded a summit that appeared impossible just one year ago, when both men’s threats against each other fueled a growing nuclear crisis.
Trump had mocked the North Korean leader as “Little Rocket Man” as the two exchanged barbs over their weapons programs. Kim responded by dismissing the president as a “mentally deranged dotard” who would “pay dearly” for his threats against Pyongyang.
Trump and Kim, however, appeared to have a friendly rapport during their day together at the Singapore island resort.
“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,” Kim said through a translator as the two met for the first time.
The pair shook hands and met in a one-on-one setting before conferring with aides. The president even showed the North Korean leader the inside of his limousine after their sessions were over.
“It’s going great. We had a really fantastic meeting. A lot of
progress. Really, very positive, I think better than anybody could have expected, top of the line, really good,” Trump said after a working lunch with Kim.
Despite the optimistic rhetoric, the summit did not produce an ironclad nuclear agreement or a peace treaty to end the Korean War — two possibilities Trump raised ahead of the talks.
“We’re starting that process very quickly. Very, very quickly.
Absolutely,” Trump said at the signing ceremony when asked by reporters if Kim had agreed to denuclearize.
At the press conference later, Trump also said he knows “for a fact” that Kim is going to “start a process” when returns home that will “make a lot of people very happy and very safe.”
“I don’t think they’ve ever had the confidence, frankly, in a
president that they have right now for getting things done and having the ability to get things done,” Trump said. “I think he might want to do this as much or even more than me because they see a very bright future for North Korea.”
Pompeo told reporters it would provide a “framework” for future negotiations.
Critics had said a summit that ended without a declaration on
denuclearization would amount to a propaganda win for Kim, elevating him to legitimacy on the international stage.
Regional experts are also skeptical Kim will give up any of his
weapons regardless of his declarations, saying the Kim family playbook is for the regime to make promises, drag out its efforts to carry out those pledges as it gets concessions and then later renege altogether. Trump had lowered expectations for the results of the summit in the last couple weeks, saying it was the start of a process meant for the two leaders to get to know each other. The change in tone came after Trump first canceled the meeting, citing Kim’s “open hostility,” then
decided to move forward after a visit to Washington by a high ranking North Korean official.
Analysts had expected both Trump and Kim to sell the summit as a success regardless of outcome since both have much at stake.
At the signing ceremony, Trump said he was “very proud” of what happened Tuesday and thanked Kim, reiterating that it was an “honor” to meet.
Trump did not answer a reporter’s question on whether the two spoke about Otto Warmbier, the American student who died shortly after his release from North Korean imprisonment in a coma exactly one year ago.
In the lead-up to the summit, North Korea released three other Americans who had been held hostage. Pompeo brought them home last month on the second of his two visits with Kim to lay the groundwork for Tuesday.
After the ceremony, Trump and Kim walked back to the platform where they started the morning with a handshake, shaking hands once again.
Responding to reporters, Trump, who prides himself on his dealmaking
skills, called Kim a “worthy negotiator.”
“We had a terrific day, and we learned a lot about each other and about our countries,” Trump said. “I learned he’s a very talented man. I also learned that he loves his country very much.”
Trump, Kim sign denuclearization deal in ‘new chapter’