Reactions to the Kim-Trump Singapore Statement

 South Korean President Moon Jae-in

I offer my heartfelt congratulations and welcome the success of the historic North Korea-United States summit.

When I met with Chairman Kim Jong Un at House of Unification (Tongilgak) in Panmunjeom on May 26, and when I spoke over the phone with President Trump yesterday, I could cautiously predict the success of the summit. Seventy years of division and hostility, however, have cast a dark shadow that makes it difficult to believe what is actually taking place before our very eyes.

I pay my high compliments for the courage and determination of the two leaders, President Trump and Chairman Kim, not to settle for that outdated and familiar reality but to take a daring step towards change.

The June 12 Sentosa Agreement will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on earth.

It is a great victory achieved by both the United States and the two Koreas, and a huge step forward for people across the world who long for peace.

Once again, I would like to pay my respect to President Trump who achieved a feat that no one else has ever delivered.

Chairman Kim Jong Un will also be remembered as a leader who made a historic moment by taking the first bold step toward the world.

I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore and many other world leaders for the great efforts they have made in order to make the summit a success.

Building upon the agreement reached today, we will take a new path going forward. Leaving dark days of war and conflict behind, we will write a new chapter of peace and cooperation. We will be there together with North Korea along the way.

This is just a beginning and there may be many difficulties ahead, but we will never go back to the past again and never give up on this bold journey. History is a record of people who take action and rise to a challenge.

My Administration will spare no effort in cooperating with the United States, North Korea and the international community to ensure that the agreement can be implemented in its entirety.


 U.N. chief urges support for U.S.-North Korea agreement

NEW YORK (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged the international community to offer support on carrying out the agreement on steps toward denuclearization between the United States and North Korea.

“Implementing today’s and previous agreements reached, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, will require patience and support from the global community,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Chizu Nomiyama
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Reuters Staff


 S Korea hopes Singapore summit will usher in new era

President Moon Jae-in, who often acted as a mediator for meeting between US and North Korea, is vowing to write a new history with Pyongyang.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says he hopes the summit will usher in a new era among the two Koreas and the United States.

Moon, who has championed the meeting and often acted as a mediator, is vowing to write a new history with Pyongyang.

Rob McBride, 12 Jun 2018

Al Jazeera’s Rob Mcbride reports from Seoul.


 Trump-Kim summit: Jubilant Moon Jae In pledges to write ’new history’ with North Korea

SEOUL - South Korea’s President Moon Jae In pledged on Tuesday (June 12) to write “new history” with North Korea, praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s decision to hold a summit with the US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

However, he also expressed unease over Mr Trump’s surprise announcement following his talks with Mr Kim that the US military would suspend some exercises with South Korea that the North regards as a threat to its security.

“The June 12 Sentosa Agreement will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on Earth,” Mr Moon said in a statement released by his office.

“Leaving dark days of war and conflict behind, we will write a new chapter of peace and cooperation,.

"We will be there together with North Korea along the way.”

Mr Moon has made great efforts playing the role of mediator to bring the Cold War foes back to dialogue. Earlier on Tuesday he said at a Cabinet meeting he “hardly slept last night” in anticipation of the historic meeting.

In his statement Mr Moon praised Mr Trump and Mr Kim for their “courage and determination” not to settle for “that outdated and familiar reality but to take a daring step towards change”. He praised Trump for achieving “a feat that no one else has ever delivered”, while Kim would be remembered as “a leader who made a historic moment by taking the first bold step toward the world”.

Mr Moon however cautioned that this was “just a beginning and there may be many difficulties ahead”.

One of the difficulties may arise in the form of joint US-South Korean military drills. "We will be stopping the war games,” Mr Trump told reporters in Singapore after his talks with Mr Kim on Sentosa, but did not say which.

The 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 the statement released by Mr Moon’s office.

“However we think that it is crucial to pursue various solutions for better dialogue.”

Mr Moon has worked hard, often playing the role of a mediator, to bring both the US and North Korea back to dialogue. He is also pushing for a peace declaration to be made between the US and the two Koreas, to pave the way to permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Mr Moon has met Mr Kim, whose official title is Chairman of State Affairs Commission, North Korea’s highest decision-making body, twice since April 27.

The Trump-Kim summit is highly watched in South Korea as its outcome will affect the future of the Korean Peninsula, which has been divided since an armistice halted the Korean War in 1953 after three years of hostilities.

The historic first handshake between Mr Trump and Mr Kim was screen live on all major TV stations, with daily newspapers providing timely updates online. Crowds gather around televisions in public places like railway stations to watch the live broadcast.

Yonhap news agency said the meeting was a “historic opportunity to peacefully end the North Korean nuclear threat”, and that security in Singapore was “watertight”, with about 5,000 police and security officers deployed on major roads leading to the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island.

The Korea Times noted that the Trump-Kim meeting was the “first-ever sit-down between the leaders of the Korean War adversaries and the culmination of a months-long flurry of diplomacy.”

JoongAng Ilbo, a major Korean language daily, said “the summit of the century” may possibly “pave the way to a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War”.

Chang May Choon, South Korea Correspondent

* Straits Times, PUBLISHED JUN 12, 2018, 11:07 AM SGTUPDATEDJUN 12, 2018, 7:21 PM:

 South Koreans Are Still Hopeful After the Trump-Kim Summit

Just after Tuesday’s summit between President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, many American pundits reacted with scorn. They argued that Trump had elevated and made concessions to a tyrant without getting anything concrete in return. In South Korea, people were more charitable, and emotional. On the radio in a suburb of Seoul, talk-show hosts spoke of a path to peace and the reassurance of ordinary diplomacy. The two-page, four-point agreement signed by Trump and Kim was welcomed as a departure from the war-mongering rhetoric of just a few months back.

There is hope today, among South Korea’s fifty-one million residents, in the strange chemistry of Trump, Kim, and the South Korean President, Moon Jae-in; there is a belief that a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War, and a stepwise plan for North Korea’s nuclear downsizing, if not total disarmament, could be imminent. Meanwhile, America’s foreign-policy establishment, conservatives touting human rights, and Democratic leaders have issued statements and tweets (“the summit—and particularly its immediate aftermath—was a farce,” James Acton, of the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Program, wrote) that sound more like those coming from conservative extremists in Korea and the ruling right wing in Japan. South Koreans don’t love Trump, but, in a place where the U.S. military led a war that killed millions and created a multigenerational, literal rift, American standing and protocol are not the priority. From the Korean point of view, U.S. politics as usual has done little good for the peninsula. George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil” and his opportunistic obsession with North Korean human rights (while setting up the prison at Guantánamo) rolled back years of inter-Korean progress. President Obama, to the profound disappointment of many on the peninsula, did nothing to advance Korean peace.

To be sure, there are many reasons to condemn Trump—just this week, he engaged in a reckless display of aggression against America’s G-7 allies. But Koreans see the Singapore summit not just as another sensational episode in the story of Donald Trump but as a step away from a sixty-eight-year-old unfinished war. In South Korea, in all but the most reactionary circles, there is a sense of ethnic solidarity with the North and some longing for unity. Support for President Moon, who is seen widely as the catalyst for this sudden thaw of relations between North Korea and the world, remains high. (Local elections, though overshadowed by the summit, take place on Wednesday in South Korea. Support for Moon’s party, generally, has also remained high, and voters will have a chance to express their confidence at the ballot box.) I’ve yet to meet a single Korean who isn’t willing to express optimism, in some form, about the prospects for peace and reunification. In Seoul’s warrens of family-run shops and restaurants, television news blares constantly over the counter. (North Koreans, meanwhile, are getting snippets of Singapore via the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper and smuggled foreign media.) This morning, a hundred and thirty thousand people tuned in to the live feed of JTBC, a respected South Korean news channel, to watch Trump and Kim shake hands. Some of my South Korean friends have confessed their fantasies of driving up through North Korea, into Russia, and across Europe. Nearly everyone uses the same common phrase to express a basic optimism: “잘될 것 같아요”—“I think it’ll work out.”

In the lead-up to the summit, while Western commentators invoked the nuclear trajectories of countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Libya, Korean analysts found other historical situations more instructive and worthy of discussion. Kim Yong-hyun, an expert on North Korea who teaches at Dongguk University, compared the U.S.-North Korea meeting to the Malta Summit of 1989, when George H. W. Bush met Mikhail Gorbachev and predicted that we might see “the end of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula.” In the Naeil newspaper, Jo Se-young, of Dongseo University, endorsed the meeting between Washington and Pyongyang, citing Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s observation that, in hindsight, simple dialogue with the North Vietnamese might have truncated the war in Vietnam.

The dominant view in Seoul is that the Singapore summit would not have taken place had Hillary Clinton been the President of the United States. Trump’s approval ratings in South Korea are around thirty per cent—the same as Kim’s—and South Koreans know that Trump’s policies have resulted in cruelties and chaos elsewhere in the world. But here they are willing to take the unexpected good brought about by his Presidency. Lee Soo-jung, an anthropologist at Duksung Women’s University, acknowledged the painful “historical irony” of benefitting from Trump. In a fairer world, she tells me, “The citizens of the world would be able to vote for the U.S. President.”

The agreement coming out of the Singapore summit “does open the door for more meetings ahead,” Grace Liu, an East Asia researcher at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told me. “But it’d be wrong to claim a victory for the disarmament community or any substantial action toward denuclearization.” To get close to something like the Agreed Framework, the weapons freeze negotiated between North Korea and the U.S. in 1994, the two countries would need “to reach out to technical experts in the field and work with organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency to set up a technical agreement that can be followed through with,” Liu added. Something, in other words, similar to the deal that President Obama negotiated with Iran—which Trump recently scrapped.

Some of Trump’s assertions at his post-summit press conference—his desire to bring home some thirty-thousand American troops stationed in South Korea; his vow to stop the “war games” (the joint military exercises) with South Korea; and his assertion that South Korea, Japan, and China should foot the bill for North Korea’s economic development—left Korean analysts confused and stunned.

But President Moon, surely knowing his man in Washington by now, did not respond to Trump’s unscripted remarks. After the summit, Moon issued a short statement congratulating the U.S. and North Korea on a “successful” and “historic” meeting, praising Trump for his initiative and promising to work toward inter-Korean peace. South Koreans do not trust Kim or Trump, or believe in the possibility of a quick reunification. They are simply aware of the toll that seventy years of national division have taken, and are eager for an alternative future.

E. Tammy Kim

E. Tammy Kim is a reporter and essayist.

* The New Yorker, June 12, 2018:

 Trump-Kim summit: First step on long road to peace

US and North Korea to establish new relations • Both will join efforts to build a lasting and stable peace on the Korean peninsula • North Korea commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula • US and North Korea commit to recovering remains of prisoners of war

On Sentosa, an island named after peace, the United States and North Korea yesterday signed a deal that they said would defuse decades of hostility between the two countries.

Calling the meeting between their leaders “historic” and “epochal”, the joint statement declared that North Korea was committed to complete denuclearisation of the peninsula, while the US would provide it with security guarantees.

The US will also suspend its war games with South Korea to soothe nerves in the North. It will reset ties with Pyongyang, and North Korea’s leader will be invited to the White House at an appropriate time.

The build-up to the summit, and the pact it would produce, had been breathless. Thousands of media personnel had descended upon Singapore and people lined the streets early yesterday to catch a glimpse of the motorcades of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they made their way from their downtown hotels to the venue.

Mr Trump further hyped hopes of a breakthrough when the two men took a stroll across the lawns of Capella hotel and he was asked about how the talks had gone.

“Better than anybody could have expected, top of the line, really good. We are going right now for a signing,” he told reporters before the agreement was unveiled.

But the vague wording and lack of details left observers divided over the document’s place in history.

Some - including several world leaders - said it was the first, meaningful step in a long journey that could eventually make the world a safer place.

Others were underwhelmed and said it left key issues unresolved, with neither a timetable for denuclearisation nor the insistence that it be verifiable and irreversible.

Mr Trump, who said he had not slept in 25 hours while the two camps negotiated, dismissed such scepticism.

“It is a great day in the history of the world,” he told the media. Facing questions standing on his feet for more than an hour after Mr Kim’s motorcade had driven off, he added: “Chairman Kim is leaving for North Korea and as soon as he is back, he is going to start a process to make people safe.”

In the meantime, the sanctions that have crippled North Korea’s economy would remain, he said.

Interspersing his answers with an acknowledgement of his own abilities and praise for the man he had negotiated with - for 45 minutes in person, two hours with their teams and then over a working lunch of prawn cocktail, Korean stuffed cucumber, beef short rib confit and sweet-and-sour pork - Mr Trump waved away the lack of details in the document.

He said North Korea’s denuclearisation would still have to be complete, verifiable and irreversible - something that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said, a day earlier, was the minimum condition for a deal. “I wouldn’t have signed any agreement if they did not agree to that.”

Mr Trump said there had been no time to incorporate those clauses in the document. “I am only here for a day,” he added.

Asked about a timeframe in which North Korea would dismantle its weapons, Mr Trump refused to pin down a date. “We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done,” he said. “It could take a long time.”

He also touched on details that did not find their way into the short, written agreement. He revealed that Mr Kim had promised to destroy a nuclear missile engine testing site.

“I got that after we signed the agreement. I said do me a favour. You have this missile engine testing site... I said can you close it up. He is going to close it up,” said Mr Trump.

The US has decided to put on hold the war games it routinely conducts with South Korea - a development that took some observers by surprise.

“The military exercises that we conduct are tremendously expensive. Our bombers fly in all the way from Guam... It is a very provocative situation (for North Korea). We will also save a lot of money,” he said.

The exercises that the US conducts with South Korea have been a sore point with the North, which says they threaten its security.

Yesterday, Mr Trump, who turns 72 tomorrow, was willing to see the point of view of the 34-year-old Chairman of North Korea’s State Affairs Commission, whom he once dubbed “Rocket Man”.

Saying that Mr Kim was committed to seeing his country become prosperous in return for giving up his nuclear arsenal, Mr Trump said: “He is very talented. They have never had a leader with the ability and confidence to get things done.”

The endorsement came just seven hours after Mr Trump had first set eyes on Mr Kim.

The grounds of the Capella hotel were teeming with special agents - one American paired with one North Korean - when the two motorcades arrived in the morning. At 9.05am, the two leaders walked into the hotel courtyard from opposite sides of the colonnade and shook hands for exactly 12 seconds.

Mr Kim then spoke before a global audience for the first time beyond his backyard to say in Korean: “It wasn’t easy to get here. We were held back by the past and blocked by old practices and prejudices. But we overcame all obstacles and here we are today.”

The serious business of hammering out this agreement was conducted around a 79-year-old teak conference table once used by Singapore’s chief justices which was even older than the Korean War between the two countries that broke out in 1950.

By 1.38pm, the document to cap the summit was ready for signing, Before that, a North Korean official wearing gloves appeared to clean and inspect the pen on Mr Kim’s side of the table.

Mr Kim declared the agreement as a new beginning, saying the “world will see a major change”.

Mr Trump said later that he had known immediately upon meeting Mr Kim that he was willing to make a deal. “My whole life has been about making deals, and I am great at it,” he said.

Congratulating both men on their joint statement, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to them, saying: “It is a crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

Later, last evening, Mr Trump and Mr Kim boarded planes to their own countries for the next step on the long, sometimes rocky, road to peace.

Rahul Pathak, Associate Editor

* PUBLISHED JUN 13, 2018, 5:00 AM SGT:

 [US-NK Summit] Trump, Kim take first step toward peace on Korean Peninsula

SINGAPORE — US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s historic summit on Tuesday signaled the start of warming ties between Cold War foes and the possible onset of peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump and Kim met on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, against the backdrop of North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability that Trump has vowed never to allow to hold the United States hostage.

Belying the somber theme of their meeting, the two leaders smiled, shook hands and exchanged pleasantries about how they will have a “terrific relationship” (Trump) and how the world might view their meeting as a scene out of a sci-fi movie (Kim).

The first sit-down between the leaders of the Korean War adversaries produced a joint statement calling for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula and the start of “new” relations between the two countries.

It fell short of Washington’s longstanding demand for the “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” of the North’s nuclear program and didn’t offer a detailed timeline for when denuclearization would take place, but it created space for the two sides to move forward into a cooperative relationship.

“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,” the statement read. DPRK stands for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It also said the two countries will “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

A signing ceremony attended by the two leaders capped their highly anticipated meeting.

Trump had more to gush about at a press conference that lasted over an hour before a room of skeptical journalists.

“The past does not have to define the future,” Trump said. “And as history has proven over and over again, adversaries can indeed become friends. We can honor the sacrifice of our forefathers by replacing the horrors of battle with the blessings of peace.”

In particular, he voiced hope to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which left the two sides technically at war following the signing of an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Establishing diplomatic relations between Washington and Pyongyang could be “a little bit early” but will happen “hopefully soon,” he said.

In what was seen as a major concession to Pyongyang, Trump also said he will stop “war games” with South Korea, referring to joint military exercises that have long irked the communist regime.

He called the exercises “provocative” and “expensive,” appearing to buy into the rhetoric used by Pyongyang.

Another agreement Trump made a point of highlighting was their commitment to recovering and repatriating the remains of American soldiers killed or missing in action during the Korean War.

Trump said he raised the North’s human rights abuses in his talks with Kim and came away believing the dictator “wants to do the right thing.”

If all goes well, the president held out the possibility of meeting Kim again at the White House, an invitation the North Korean leader accepted. On visiting Pyongyang, he said, “Well, at a certain time, I will. I said that will be a day that I look very much forward to, at the appropriate time.”

The on-again, off-again summit was reinstated on June 1 after an envoy of Kim’s brought Trump a personal letter from the North Korean leader. Trump had called off the meeting the previous week, citing “open hostility” from the regime.

And in the weeks before that, North Korea threatened to pull out of the meeting over suggestions from US National Security Adviser John Bolton and US Vice President Mike Pence that the regime would ultimately meet the same fate as Libya’s collapsed government if it refused to denuclearize.

The summit was arranged in a flurry of diplomacy after Trump in March accepted Kim’s invitation to meet, a decision that took even his aides by surprise.

Behind that move was South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s push to improve ties with the North amid escalating fears of war prompted last year by an exchange of threats and personal insults between Trump and Kim over North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.


* Published : Jun 13, 2018 - 08:47 Updated : Jun 13, 2018 - 08:49:

[US-NK Summit]Trump-Kim summit repeats past failure of denuclearizing NK: experts

Published : Jun 12, 2018 - 22:35 Updated : Jun 12, 2018 - 22:35
Despite a joint agreement and lofty words, the first-ever summit between the US and North Korea appears to have made little progress in achieving the much-anticipated goal of denuclearizing North Korea, analysts said.

Following their summit on the resort island of Sentosa in Singapore, US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un signed an agreement that “reaffirmed firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

But the agreement is a repeat of North Korea’s previous, illusive promises on denuclearization, Seoul-based analysts said, as it lacks specific measures to ensure Kim surrender his ultimate guarantor of security in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

“It is another diplomatic triumph for North Korea. I don’t understand why Trump signed such an agreement,” said Park Won-gon, a security expert and a political science professor at Handong Global University.

“It looks like the Panmunjeom agreement between the two Koreas — or even the Rodong Shinmun,” said Park, referring to the joint agreement adopted after the inter-Korean summit in April and the reclusive regime’s state newspaper.

The first meeting between Kim and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in was criticized for lacking specific measures for denuclearization. Faced with controversy, Moon said the details of denuclearization should be addressed during the Trump-Kim summit.

In its front page article published Monday, Rodong Shinmun reported that North Korea was seeking to establish a new relations with the US, build a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and achieve the goal of complete denuclearization on the peninsula.

Even compared to the previous “failed” nuclear negotiations – whether they were bilateral or multilateral ones – the Trump-Kim agreement has left so many “parentheses” to be filled out during what would be an arduous process, the experts added.

“Now I understand why Trump described his meeting with Kim as a ‘get-to-know meeting.’ If that was the agreement Trump was looking for, he should have left the meeting after just taking pictures with Kim,” said Park.

One of the biggest holes in the agreement is a thorough verification of North Korea’s nuclear materials and production facilities, experts noted. North Korea has reportedly concealed nuclear facilities in a hidden location across the mountainous area.

Inspecting those sites is viewed by nuclear experts as the most extensive process in the history of nuclear armament. A renowned nuclear scientist Siegfried S. Hecker told New York Times that it would take up to 15 years to denuclearize North Korea.

“Despite its historic significance. It’s such a shame that we can’t see the word ‘verifiable’ when they agreed on complete denuclearization,” said Yun Duk-min, former chancellor of the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

When asked by the reporters whether the agreement lacked a thorough inspection, Trump said the nucelar facilities would be verified without providing further details.

On the question of a timescale for dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Trump again declined to give specific dates, but acknowledged that it “does take a long time to pull off complete denuclearization ... scientifically.”

He said he had learned a lot about the complicated process involved, and was convinced that while it would take “a long time” to complete, North Korea would effectively lose its nuclear weapons capability at an early stage in the process.

“There will be a point at which when you are 20 percent through, when you can’t go back.” Trump said, specifically disputing the argument by prominent nuclear scientists that it would take up to 15 years for North Korea to denuclearize.

While the Trump-Kim summit falls short of fulfilling its initial expectation of producing tangible measures on denuclearization, it might have been an “intentional decision” made by the two leaders for their own political gains, a North Korea expert said.

Both Trump and Kim appeared to stake their political careers on the summit. Besieged by political scandals at home, Trump has also drawn criticism for his decision to withdraw from the joint communique at the G-7 summit.

Kim, for his part, is appears to be more eager than ever to get economic sanctions lifted — a key component to fulfilling his dream of transforming his nuclear-armed impoverished country into an prosperous one.

“Neither leader can afford to make the summit a failure as there are so many things at stake. … They have no choice but leave the parentheses in the agreement,” said Hong Min, director of the North Korean studies division at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

The remaining issues would be addressed through working-level talks and further summits between the US and North Korea, Hong added. Trump hinted there would be additional summits with Kim, possibly in Pyongyang or Washington.

Further negotiations are expected to follow as early as next month over thorny issues — such as detailed terms and a timeline of North Korea’s denuclearization process, which would involve the complicated process of verification and inspection.

“I think there was difference of opinions over the denuclearization process during the working-level talks. Unlike other summits, Trump-Kim meeting proceeded in a top-down manner and the officials would not have had enough time to prepare it,” Hong said.

Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo


 Residents of China border city hope U.S.-North Korea summit spurs peace, and business

DANDONG, China (Reuters) - Residents of the Chinese city that stands to benefit the most from a positive outcome from Tuesday’s historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore said they were hopeful that it would lead to peace and bolster cross-border business.

A truck with a North Korean number plate turns into a yard where goods-laden trucks wait before crossing the Friendship Bridge to North Korea, in Dandong, Liaoning province, China June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brenda Goh
“Whenever we go out and chat with others, basically everyone is keeping an eye on this, because it has a direct impact on our business,” said Zheng Zhefan, 44, who runs a shop selling Japanese products that were popular with North Korean traders before sanctions against the country kicked-in.

Still, there was little outward evidence that Tuesday was more than an ordinary day in Dandong, where traders have been squeezed by United Nations resolutions that had further isolated impoverished North Korea because of its nuclear and missile programs.

As the conduit for the bulk of North Korea’s international trade, Dandong’s fortunes have long been hinged to those of the neighboring country, and residents have for decades ridden waves of optimism and disappointment.

“If the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump is successful it will be extremely good for Dandong because we rely on border trade,” said Jiang Xiaohong, who was walking along the banks of the Yalu River, which separates the two countries.

Jiang, 35, runs a clothing firm and her husband is an investor in a processing business in North Korea.

“My husband is quite anxious about the meeting,” she said. “I’m maintaining a calm attitude and hope they will make good out of it.”

Kim’s dramatic visit to Beijing in March have fueled a frenzy of speculative property investment in Dandong.

On Tuesday morning, though, a big riverside video screen displayed advertisements, not news of the summit.

State broadcaster CCTV carried live footage of the opening handshake between Trump and Kim but then switched to other coverage. Several shopkeepers in Dandong were watching Chinese soap operas, not the news, although other residents said they were paying close attention.

Across China, the Trump-Kim meeting failed to gain much early traction on domestic social media. As of midday, it was only the 32nd most-searched item on the Twitter-like Weibo, with the past weekend’s Shanghai Security Organisation summit in the city of Qingdao the most-searched.

Still, residents of Dandong following developments on their phones and news apps said they were hopeful that the summit would lead to regional stability.

“Seeing the handshake, as a Chinese citizen, it makes me feel happy,” said Wu Baoku, a 69-year-old retiree, who was also taking his morning walk.

“There’s still a long way to go on the road to peace in the peninsula, but we must go down this route because China has already stated that there cannot be war on the peninsula, that’s what the Communist party has said.”

Brenda Goh, Natalie Thomas

Reporting by Brenda Goh and Natalie Thomas; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Martin Howell


 China hails its ’indisputable’ role in outcome of Trump-Kim summit

Trump’s surprise announcement that the US would halt military exercises was a measure first proposed by Beijing.

Chinese officials have been quick to take credit for some of the outcomes of a historic summit between the US and North Korea on Tuesday.

Following the meeting between US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi hailed China’s “indisputable” role in the process.

“It is fair to say that the relevant approach and initiative proposed by China and its endeavours … have played a positive and constructive role in getting the situation on the peninsula to where it is now.”

China’s state-run media called the summit a “success” and something China had long been “working toward.”

China, North Korea’s largest trading partner and most powerful ally, was not present at the summit in Singapore but Beijing has emerged as a clear winner. Trump surprised allies by announcing the US would stop holding military exercises with South Korea, a measure China first proposed to Washington last year, known as the “freeze for freeze” initiative.

Trump initially rejected the proposal, in which North Korea would stop conducting nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a halt in military exercise between the US and South Korea. “The China-proposed ‘suspension for suspension’ initiative has been materialised and now the situation is moving forward,” Wang said, in comments to reporters in Beijing.

Trump also called the war games “provocative” and “inappropriate,” echoing language both Beijing and Pyongyang have used to characterise the annual war games that have been conducted for decades.

“Trump suspending joint drill between the US and South Korea shows sincerity,” said Lu Chao, an expert in North and South Korea relations at the Liaoning Academy of Social Science.

China may benefit in other ways. Soon after the summit’s conclusion, Beijing called for lifting international sanctions on Pyongyang, a move that would give trade in China’s northeastern regions across the border from North Korea a needed boost.

“As a neighbour, China’s role is to take more responsibility as a regional power. China is an important mediator between the US and North Korea, and China will maintain this role,” Lu said.

Lily Kuo

* The Guardian, Wed 13 Jun 2018 07.08 BST Last modified on Wed 13 Jun 2018 22.00 BST:

 Mike Pompeo loses temper

When asked about North Korean disarmament, Secretary of state told reporters joint statement did not contain all that had been agreed in principle with Pyongyang.

Mike Pompeo has said the US and North Korea are close to agreement on a broad range of issues, but has lashed out at reporters when asked about how Pyongyang’s disarmament would be verified.

The US secretary of state was talking to journalists the day after a joint statement signed by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, on North Korean disarmament and bilateral relations.

The statement has been criticised by arms control experts because it used the vague language favored by the regime rather than the more precise definition of disarmament the Trump administration had said it would insist on before the summit.

When pressed on whether Trump and Kim had discussed verification, which would involve the deployment of weapons inspectors to North Korea, the secretary of state lost his temper. “I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous,” the former Republican congressman said. “I just have to be honest with you. It’s a game and one ought not play games with serious matters like this.”

Most observers agree that the Singapore meeting went some way towards defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula, but had not made clear whether the Pyongyang regime was serious about giving up its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo spoke after arriving in Seoul to brief the South Korean and Japanese governments on the summit’s outcome. He said the joint statement did not contain all that had been agreed in principle with Pyongyang.

He added that there would be more bilateral talks soon, and expressed hope that “major disarmament” would be achieved in the next two-and-a-half years, before the end of Trump’s first term.

At a later joint media conference with Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Pompeo said: “Kim Jong-un understands the urgency of denuclearisation and that we must do this quickly.”

“We’re going to get complete denuclearisation and only then are we going to lift sanctions,” Pompeo added. “The mistakes of the past were they were providing economic relief before complete denuclearisation.”

Pompeo also backed Trump’s claim on Twitter that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea”, despite Kim maintaining his nuclear arsenal and a range of ballistic missiles.

Pompeo’s outburst came when he highlighted that US and North Korean officials meeting in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) had made a lot of progress in the run-up to the summit that would soon become public.

“Not all of that work appeared in the final document, but [there were] lots of other places where there were understandings reached,” Pompeo said. “We couldn’t reduce them to writing, so that means there’s still some work to do, but there was a great deal of work done that is beyond what was seen in the final document.”

In the joint statement, Kim agreed his country would work towards “complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

It is a stock phrase the regime has used since 1992, but which it defines loosely as a distant aspirational goal that would take place in the context of global disarmament by nuclear weapons powers.

Before the Singapore summit, the Trump administration, and Pompeo in particular, insisted the US would demand more rigorous terms, specifically “complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament” (CVID), which is favoured by arms control experts to reduce wiggle-room in negotiations.

Before the Singapore meeting, Pompeo repeated the phrase almost daily in interviews and speeches, and in a tweet on the eve of the summit.

But when he was asked why the words “verifiable” and “irreversible” were not in the joint statement, he argued the two terms were encompassed in the single word “complete”: “You could argue semantics, but let me assure you that it’s in the document,” Pompeo said.

When asked again how disarmament would be verified, Pompeo replied: “There’s a long way to go, there’s much to think about, but don’t say silly things.

“No, don’t, don’t,” he continued in face of the questioning. “It’s not productive. It’s not productive to do that, to say silly things. It’s just – it’s unhelpful.

“It’s unhelpful for your readers, your listeners, for the world,” Pompeo said. “It doesn’t remotely reflect the American position or the understandings that the North Koreans have either.”

On returning to the US from his historic meeting with Kim, the first ever between US and North Korean leaders, Trump declared in a tweet: “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

The president blamed the media for scepticism over what had been achieved in Singapore. “They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have “begged” for this deal – looked like war would break out,” Trump said. “Our country’s biggest enemy is the fake news so easily promulgated by fools!”

North Korean media declared the summit a victory for Kim, and highlighted Trump’s announcement after the meeting that the US would suspend joint military exercises with South Korea, news which appeared to take Seoul by surprise.

According to Trump, Kim pledged to dismantle a missile engine testing site, but that has so far not been mentioned by Pyongyang.

Arms control specialists warned that the vagueness in the language in Singapore suggested that the summit had done little to close the gap between the two sides in their approach to disarmament.

“Headed into the summit, the US and North Korea failed to reconcile their definitions of denuclearisation, and this failure paradoxically allowed them to talk,” Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow at Yale Law School’s China centre, said. “By eliding these distinct definitions in the joint statement in ‘complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula’, they have once again failed to commit to the same objective.”

Kelsey Davenport, the director for non-proliferation policy at the Arms Control Association, said: “Pompeo is assuming that North Korea shares his interpretation that ‘complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula’ implies ‘verifiable’.”

“That is a dangerous assumption because North Korea has exploited ambiguity in the past to derail agreements,” Davenport said.

Joseph Cirincione, the head of advocacy group the Ploughshares Fund, said that there had been plenty of arms control agreements before the George W Bush administration coined CVID.

“Pompeo is right that ‘complete denuclearisation’ implies and could include those concepts. But Pompeo personally and the administration overall made such a big deal about it before the summit that its absence is striking,” Cirincione said.

“The weakness in the communique is not the absence of this slogan but the absence of any reference at all to verification or inspections,” he added. “Every other agreement since 1992 has included a commitment to verification.”

Julian Borger in Singapore and Benjamin Haas in Seoul

* The Guardian. Thu 14 Jun 2018 05.31 BST First published on Wed 13 Jun 2018 17.51 BST:

 Donald Trump shrugs off Kim’s human rights record: ’He’s a tough guy’

As Fox News host presses Trump over North Korean regime, president is dismissive: ‘A lot of people have done bad things’.

Donald Trump has dismissed concerns about the widely condemned human rights record of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, praising him as a “tough guy”, a “smart guy” and a “great negotiator”.

In an interview with Bret Baier of Fox News as he was leaving Singapore following the denuclearization summit with the North Korean leader, Trump declined to condemn the record of his interlocutor. International bodies have accused Kim of crimes against humanity including assassinations of political rivals, public executions and holding captive tens of thousands of political prisoners.

Speaking in a wood-paneled office aboard Air Force One, Baier put it to the US president that Kim was “a killer. He’s executing people.”

Trump replied by praising Kim as a “tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don’t care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have – if you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 could do that.”

Trump went on: “So he’s a very smart guy, he’s a great negotiator and I think we understand each other.”

Baier, sounding taken aback by the president’s flippant response, pressed Trump on the issue: “But he’s still done some really bad things.”

To which Trump said: “Yeah, but so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done.”

Trump’s failure to condemn one of the worst human rights records on the world stage is certain to inflame criticism that is already being leveled at him from both Democrats and Republicans in the wake of the summit. The presidential center of the former Republican president George W Bush has been tweeting about North Korea’s abuses, giving a clear indication of how he views the matter.

Other public figures have been more directly critical. A Democratic senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, said of the outcome of the Singapore summit: “Kim’s gulags, public executions, planned starvation, are legitimized on the world stage … What the hell?”

The issue of human rights was notably absent from the joint statement signed by Trump and Kim at their five-hour summit on Tuesday. Nor has there been any mention of human rights in the early discussions about follow-up meetings between the Trump administration and the North Korean regime.

Among the outrages that could be put on the agenda are the up to 120,000 political prisoners that are thought to be held in four political prison camps in North Korea. A UN inquiry accused the regime of “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” rising frequently to the level of crimes against humanity.

The UN added: “These are not mere excesses of the state; they are essential components of a political system that has moved far from the ideals on which it claims to be founded. The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”

North Korea under Kim amounted, the UN concluded, to a totalitarian regime that “seeks to dominate every aspect of its citizens’ lives and terrorizes them from within”.

Ed Pilkington in New York

* Thu 14 Jun 2018 10.47 BST First published on Thu 14 Jun 2018 02.31 BST: