Update: As North Korea's day begins, Kim is on the wires reiterating Trump's comments, underlining the need for North Korea and US to "take practical measures" to follow through on the topics discussed in Singapore.
According to KCNA, Kim said it was "urgent for North Korea and US to make the bold decision to stop irritating and hostile military actions against each other," adding that "if the US takes genuine measures to build trust" then North Korea "can continue to show additional goodwill."
Finally, Kim said that Trump and he discussed "taking legal, institutional steps to guarantee commitment to avoid antagonizing each other."
Kim also confirmed that Trump has accepted Kim's invitation to visit North Korea.
Trump also updated his status of the summit in tweet-form:
Heading back home from Singapore after a truly amazing visit. Great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea. Hostages are back home, will be getting the remains of our great heroes back to their families, no missiles shot, no research happening, sites closing...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
...Got along great with Kim Jong-un who wants to see wonderful things for his country. As I said earlier today: Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace! #SingaporeSummit— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
* * *
While Trump was quick to take a victory lap after signing a non-binding letter (of intent) with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un to implement the dunclearization of North Korea, several questions have emerged among which:
the lack of deal enforcement
the lack of verifiability of N.Korea's denuclearization efforts as part of the "Complete, Verifiable, Irreversible Denuclearization" or CVID protocol
the legitimization of North Korea's regime
China's role in the process
the end of joint military drills with South Korea.
While Trump's response to most critics was that the process is just starting and that it will take time to denuclearize, where Trump will see the greatest amount of pushback is on the last bullet point. Speaking in an interview with George Stephanopoulos shortly after the one-on-one with Kim, when asked if there was talk of pulling U.S. troops out of South Korea, Trump said the topic didn't come up, however he said the following:
"We didn't discuss that, no. We're not going to play the war games... I thought they were very provocative. I also they're also very expensive."
In his press conference after the summit, Trump reiterated that the US would halt joint war games with South Korea, as Pyongyang has agreed to destroy a "major" missile testing site.
“We will be stopping the war games,” Trump said Tuesday during a news conference after four hours of meetings in Singapore with the North Korean leader. He offered no specifics about which exercises would be affected,.
According to Bloomberg, Trump’s announcement came as a surprise to the South Korean government.
"At this point, we need to know President Trump’s exact meaning or intentions,” according to a statement released by the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “However we think that it is crucial to pursue various solutions for better dialogue.”
Pressed on what the United States gets in exchange for halting the military exercises, Trump said "we haven't given up anything."
“At some point,” Trump said, “I want to bring our soldiers home. But that’s not part of the equation right now.”
* * *
This is where Trump will get much pushback because in its commentary on Trump and Kim, Beijing said that this is "precisely that goal that China had always sought and worked hard for, and that as part of the final agreement, China also includes withdrawal of US troops from the Korean Peninsula, elimination of US-ROK military exercises, and dismantlement of US-ROK joint missile defense systems.
China also includes withdrawal of US troops from the Korean Peninsula, elimination of US-ROK military exercises, and dismantlement of US-ROK joint missile defense systems.
I wonder which side gave #China advance notice that the regular joint #USA #SouthKorea military exercises were going to be cancelled? KimJong-un camp or DonaldTrump camp? Would love to know what the Pentagon & the generals in Seoul think of this. Big concession to #NorthKorea. https://t.co/am2AYg9ndh— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) June 12, 2018
China on Trump and Kim... pic.twitter.com/8gQqlqNoDQ— Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) June 12, 2018
In other words, one could frame the summit as a victory for China which will soon see US presence in South Korea depart gradually (the same China which also carefully made its national interest clear when it brought Kim to Singapore).
Trump's take is that 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."
And finally, there was another question mark: Trump and Kim capped off their summit Singapore by signing a statement committing the United States to unspecified “security guarantees” for Pyongyang in exchange for a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
“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.
It remains unclear what these "guarantees" are.
Going back to the Stephanopoulos interview, the ABC anchor asked how Trump could trust the brutal dictator.
"I do trust him," Trump said. "Maybe in a year you’ll be interviewing and I'll say I made a mistake. It's possible. We’re dealing at a high level, a lot of things can change a lot of things are possible."
He pressed the president on his previous criticism of North Korea's human rights abuses including starving his people, running labor camps and assassinating members of his own family.
"George, I'm given what I'm given," Trump said. "This is what we have, this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I’ve met him, I've spoken with him. I’ve met him. And this is, this has started early and it's been very intense. I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea. I think he wants to de-nuke, without that, there's nothing to discuss. It was on the table from the beginning, and you see a total denuclearization of North Korea – so important.
Trump added that he believes the North Korean leader "wants to do the right thing".
"Now, what it is I can’t talk about – it doesn’t matter," Trump said. "We’re starting from scratch. We’re starting right now, and we have to get rid of those nuclear weapons."
"We have the framework for getting ready to denuclearize," Trump said.
"He's de-nuking the whole place. I think he's going to start now. "Over my lifetime I've done a lot of deals with a lot of people and sometimes the people you most distrust turn out to be the most honorable ones and the people that you do trust turn out to be not the honorable ones," Trump said.
"I believe he wants to get it done."
It remains to be seen if the biggest "deal" of Trump's lifetime will also be his biggest blunder.
Didn’t think the Rodman on CNN video could be topped. I was wrong. pic.twitter.com/J7uUBxlni3— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) June 12, 2018
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