President Donald Trump and Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un have today met at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore.
It is the first time ever that a sitting President of the USA has met the North Korean head of state.
Yesterday, Kim made the headlines taking an evening stroll in Singapore and what is believed to be his first-ever selfie with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
Today, after carefully choreographed arrivals and a photo opportunity of the pair shaking hands, Kim and Trump went into the library of the hotel to have a 45 minute one-on-one meeting, only accompanied by their translators. Having previously said that he would know within the first minute if Kim was entering talks seriously, in a photo sit-down just prior to their one-on-one discussions, Trump said confidently: ‘We will have a terrific relationship’.
The discussions were then opened up to include each leader’s key advisers. On Trump’s side, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton were among those present, while Kim brought along his influential sister, Kim Yo-jong, his right-hand man, former spy chief Kim Yong-chol, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.
Although Trump has previously spoken in the past of his willingness to share a hamburger with Kim, the working lunch the delegations had together saw no burgers on the menu. Instead, a combination of Western and Korean food and Chinese and Malay cuisine was on offer, with the main course being ‘Daegu Jorim’, a Korean dish consisting of cod braised with radishes and Asian vegetables.
After lunch, the summit was almost over, except for the pair signing an agreement and taking a short stroll in the grounds of the Capella Hotel in front of the world’s cameras.
The agreement consists of four points:
- The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
- The United States and the DPRK will join the efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panumunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Later, following the agreement’s signing, Trump held a press conference. In the conference, he further committed to suspending joint military exercises with South Korean military and talked of eventually withdrawing US military from the Korean Peninsular. This marks arguably the most significant concession made by either side at the summit.
The concession appears to have been made without prior consultation with South Korea as a spokesperson for the Blue House, President Moon Jae-in’s official residence has responded, saying:
At this moment, the meaning and intention of President Trump’s requires more clear understanding
Among topics Trump has fielded questions on, he was asked about whether human rights emerged in his conversations with Kim. Trump replied that the topic had been discussed ‘relatively briefly’, before later claiming that North Korean prisoners were the greatest winners from the talks.
Pressed on why words like ‘verifiable’, ‘irreversible’ and ‘complete’ were not in the agreement regarding denuclearization, Trump said ‘Because there was no time’.
Responding to a query about whether his conversations with Kim were recorded, Trump said he didn’t think so, but that there are probably some notes and it was OK if not, as he has ‘ one of the greatest memories of all time’.
The agreement has already received criticism from Western analysts of North Korea, like the famously interrupted by his kids last year, Professor Robert Kelly of Pusan National University. One analyst, Professor Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University, Seoul, and director of nknews.org which observes North Korean affairs, has described the deal reached as ‘floppier than anything we expected’.
Two more Trump concessions just in this presser: stopping US-S Korea military exercises and hope to withdraw US troops from SK. And what have we gotten from NK for these? STOP GIVING STUFF AWAY for nothing.
— Robert E Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) June 12, 2018
The agreement may lack a great deal of detail and only reaffirms North Korea’s previous commitment to ‘work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula’. However, the meeting in itself is of historic proportions and Trump seems upbeat about the prospects for future talks, confirming he’d be prepared to invite Kim to the White House in future if talks continue to proceed well.
Ultimately, it remains to be seen if today’s summit will prove to be the start of a successful peace process, or a false dawn.
Underlying perhaps the scale of difference that remains was ‘pen diplomacy’ on North Korea’s part at the point of the agreement’s signing. Two pens had been laid out, one for Trump and Kim each, to sign the agreement. They appeared to be engraved with Trump’s signature. At the very last minute, Kim’s sister Kim Yo-jong stepped in and provided Kim with a different pen with which to sign.
Anyone else spot this? There were two "Donald Trump" signing pens, NK official came in and shined up the one for Kim, then at the last minute Kim Yo Jong pulled out her own per to use instead of the one provided. Kim used that and back it went in her blazer. (Pool video) pic.twitter.com/dZWEK22IdF
— Martyn Williams (@martyn_williams) June 12, 2018
If they can’t yet agree on the same pen to sign the agreement, denuclearization would appear to be a long way off still in reality.