Govt.

US-North Korea Summit: A Good First Step in Singapore

At the end of an intense two days of meetings, Donald Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un signed what they called a comprehensive agreement. It is an important first step for what might turn into lasting peace for the region.

Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un meet publicly for the first time on September 12, 2018 in Singapore.

 
The meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore began with much preparation behind the scenes by aides from both sides. When the face-to-face meeting between Trump and Kim finally came to pass, it was choreographed almost like a dance. They were on opposite ends of one long corridor, walked quickly down the halls with near identical pacing, then met in the center and shook hands. Both leaders were smiling, which isn’t a bad way to start a meeting that might help calm tensions which have rattled the Korean peninsula for seven decades. It was also not bad considering that it is the first time a sitting American President and a leader from North Korea ever met together.
 

Kim Jong-un smiles big as the main meeting with Donald Trump is about to begin.

Kim looked pleased and Trump appeared energized at the first public ‘meet-and-greet’ between the two leaders.

Donald Trump, Kim Jong-Un and aides from both sides meet in the afternoon at Sentosa Island.

The two then met privately for under an hour with only interpreters beside them. They then gathered in a larger room for a working lunch with aides present. There were apparently some side meetings to discuss terms. Eventually, likely from editing a document already prepared in draft form prior to the in-person meetings, they emerged to sign what they both referred to as a “comprehensive agreement”.

When they sat down that second public time together, their comments about what they had agreed on were cagey but optimistic from both sides. As Trump put it in his first brief comments, “We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind.” As they signed the document he said that, “The world will see a major change. We are going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world.” For his part, Kim said simply that the denuclearization process in the North, one of the pivotal requirements for the U.S. to consider providing anything in return, would start “very quickly”.

In the agreement, Trump put in writing what he had said publicly many times prior to coming to the meeting, saying that he “committed to security guarantees” for North Korea. For his part, Supreme Leader Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”. It did not have much in the way of a formal plan outlined. Instead it said that there would be “follow-on negotiations” between a senior North Korean official and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the summit meeting”.

The statement went on to say that both North Korea and the United States would “join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime” in the long-divided and unstable Korean Peninsula.

In comments made some hours after the meeting, Trump announced that as a sign of good faith the U.S. would immediately suspend military exercises over the Korean Peninsula. He did clarify for those wondering that all economic sanctions curently in place against North Korea would stay that way for now.

Both leaders seem to be leaving happy with the outcome, despite the lack of detail and the need for much more to happen before anything substantive will likely be agreed to on paper. There is still the need for a timetable of actions from North Korea regarding its denuclearization plan, including when weaponry and production equipment would be destroyed and how it would be verified. The United States also has much to put on paper as to how to back up its pre-summit pledges of sanctions removal, foreign aid and long-term security for North Korea.

There is also the matter of what China may want to say to Kim Jong-un after the summit. China has long been in the shadows providing aid, unacknowledged breaches of sanctions, and at least some degree of guidance to Kim. It will want to continue to keep North Korea as a buffer against the U.S.

It amounts to a good start, with few public gaffes on the way to this historic meeting. And while there is still a great deal of work yet ahead to move from the platitudes of the document to solid realities, in the words of ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu it is always helpful to remember that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Below is the full statement signed by Kim and Trump:

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. 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.

Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit — the first in history — was an epochal event of great significance and overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

June 12, 2018

Sentosa IslandSingapore