June 12, 2018 – U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un today pledged to work towards the “complete” denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula while Washington committed to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang.
“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,” said a joint statement issued after their historic summit in Singapore.
Speaking at the signing ceremony after the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit, Trump called the document “pretty comprehensive” and said the two sides will start the process of ridding the North — whose formal name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — of nuclear weapons “very quickly.”
The statement, however, makes no reference to concrete measures nor to a timeframe to achieve denuclearization. It does not say how Trump will provide security assurances to Pyongyang, either.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and “relevant high-level” North officials will hold follow-up negotiations “at the earliest possible date,” according to the statement.
The statement does not mention “complete, verifiable and irreversible” denuclearization, a concept Pompeo said Monday would be the only outcome the United States will accept.
Speaking at a post-summit news conference, Trump said sanctions on North Korea will continue for now, but that the United States plans to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea as long as dialogue continues with Pyongyang.
The president said during the hour-long press conference that he did raise the issue of the North’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, but did not provide details.
Hailing the joint statement, Trump said at the signing ceremony, “I think our whole relationship with North Korea and the Korean Peninsula, it’s going to be a very much different situation than it has in the past.”
Kim, for his part, said the two leaders made a “historic” agreement.
“We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind,” he said during the signing ceremony, speaking through an interpreter. “The world will see a major change.”
Asked by reporters whether he will invite Kim to the White house, Trump said, “Absolutely I will,” adding he will meet with the North’s leader “many times.”
Following their historic first handshake around 9 a.m. in a reception area of Capella Singapore, a luxury hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Trump and Kim had a one-on-one meeting accompanied only by their interpreters, before attending an expanded meeting with senior officials of both sides and a working lunch.
Asked by reporters between the one-on-one and expanded sessions if he would give up the North’s nuclear weapons, Kim made no reply.
According to the joint statement, the United States and North Korea will join efforts to build a “lasting and stable peace regime” on the peninsula.
The two countries committed to recovering the remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified, it said.
The 1950-1953 war halted by an armistice, not a peace treaty. The armistice — signed by the U.S.-led United Nations Command, North Korea and Chinese People’s Volunteer Army — has left the main combatants technically in a state of war.
Analysts were watching to see if Kim’s offer of a meeting with Trump represents a strategic decision to pursue a new relationship with the United States or is a tactical move to win sanctions relief or other concessions without actually giving up his country’s nuclear weapons.
The Trump administration has been calling for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. U.S. officials said ahead of the summit they would like Kim to commit to denuclearization on a timeline, hopefully by January 2021, the end of Trump’s first term.
In a prelude to the summit, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In, meeting in the truce village of Panmunjeom on April 27, expressed their commitment to the “complete” denuclearization of the peninsula and agreed to declare an end to the Korean War by the end of the year.
Dismissing demands for unilateral disarmament, North Korea has sought “phased and synchronous measures,” an incremental, action-for-action process in which Pyongyang secures benefits for each move it takes toward denuclearization.
Given the gap in the proposed steps and the speed of denuclearization, Trump has lowered expectations for a swift resolution to the issue. The president said earlier he will start a “process,” meaning it would require more talks to strike a deal with Kim.