Trump-Kim Singapore summit

Kim Jong Un committed to dismantling nuclear arsenal quickly: Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un preparing to depart from Changi Airport late last night after the summit. Mr Trump said he expected Mr Kim to start a process in North Korea "that is going to make a lot of people very happy and very safe".
US President Donald Trump boarding Air Force One for his flight home yesterday after what he described as “honest, direct, and productive” talks with the North Korean leader in Singapore. PHOTOS: REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un preparing to depart from Changi Airport late last night after the summit. Mr Trump said he expected Mr Kim to start a process in North Korea “that is going to make a lot of people very happy and very safe”.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un preparing to depart from Changi Airport late last night after the summit. Mr Trump said he expected Mr Kim to start a process in North Korea “that is going to make a lot of people very happy and very safe”.

US President focuses on broader outcomes like reset of ties, chance for North Korea to change path

While the agreement signed yesterday was just the beginning of an arduous process, US President Donald Trump said he expected the denuclearisation process to proceed quickly and stressed that he trusted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's commitment to change.

Hours after concluding an unprecedented summit with a leader he had recently considered an adversary, Mr Trump the deal-maker turned into Mr Trump the salesman as he sought to make clear the merits of what he described as "honest, direct and productive" talks.

 

The American President was charming, restrained and even self-deprecating as he fielded questions for over an hour at a press conference at Capella Singapore hotel.

At one point, he pointedly refused to answer a question about what military options the United States has kept on the table in the event North Korea does not hold up its end of the bargain. " I don't want to talk... That is a tough thing to talk about because I don't want to be threatening," he said.

But perhaps a key message, on a day when many questions centred on what he got out of the deal, was that the US had not been short-changed.

He stressed, first of all, that apart from joint military exercises with South Korea he considered expensive anyway, he gave little else concrete to Pyongyang.

Sanctions, he said, would remain as long as North Korea's nuclear arsenal was operational.

 
 
 
 

"At a certain point, I actually look forward to taking them off. And they will come off when we know we are down the road," he said.

He also dismissed suggestions that granting a meeting to North Korea was in itself a gift to Mr Kim - on the argument that it gave the leader the legitimacy of being treated as an equal.

He said: "They got a meeting. But only a person that dislikes Donald Trump would say that I have agreed to make a big commitment."

He added: "What did they do to justify this meeting? Secured commitment for complete denuclearisation; that is the big thing. They secured the release of three American hostages. They already gave them to us two months ago. These people are now living happily back in their homes, with their families."

To that list of US takeaways, Mr Trump also added the agreement by North Korea to return remains of Americans killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War, the pledge to halt all missile and nuclear tests, as well as the destruction of a nuclear missile engine testing site.

He said: "I got that after we signed the agreement. I said, 'Do me a favour. You have got this missile engine testing site'... I said, 'Can you close it up?' He is going to close it up."

Then, when asked why the signed document made no mention of a key US demand that the denuclearisation be also verifiable and irreversible, Mr Trump said that came down to time. "There was no time. I am here one day. We are together for many hours intensively," he said, while making clear that the outcome will be achieved anyway.

"They blew up their sites. They blew up their testing site. But I will say, he knew, prior to coming - you know, this wasn't like a surprise. It wasn't like we have never discussed it. We discussed it."

He added: "We will be verifying. It will be verified... It is going to be achieved by having a lot of people there. "

But Mr Trump also said he was going into the deal with his eyes open, aware that the steps ahead were fraught.

He even joked that while he believed Mr Kim would fulfil his promises, he was prepared for the possibility that he might have misjudged his interlocutor.

"I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, 'Hey, I was wrong.' I don't know that I will ever admit that, but I will find some kind of an excuse," he said to laughter.

Specifics of the agreement and denuclearisation aside, he also continually sought to draw attention to the broader outcome of yesterday's summit: A reset of US-North Korea ties and an opportunity for the country to change its path.

"Our unprecedented meeting, the first between an American president and a leader of North Korea, proves that real change is indeed possible," he said.

He added: "It is a very great moment in the history of the world. And Chairman Kim is on his way back to North Korea. And I know for a fact, as soon as he arrives, he is going to start a process that is going to make a lot of people very happy and very safe."

The US leader also had some kinds words for Singapore and the resources it put into facilitating the summit. "We send our warmest wishes to every citizen of Singapore, who really made this visit so important and so pleasant, despite all of the work and all of the long hours," he said.

And in response to a question from The Straits Times, he added that Singapore helped achieve the positive outcome with North Korea: "Your Prime Minister was fantastic. We were with him yesterday... It was very welcoming... It probably made a difference, actually. It is a great place. Thank you very much."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2018, with the headline 'Kim committed to dismantling nuclear arsenal quickly: Trump'. Print Edition | Subscribe