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Trump and Kim conclude summit by signing agreement

June 12,2018
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North Korea leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanged signed documents at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island in Singapore on Tuesday. [AP/YONHAP]
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed a joint statement during their historic summit in Singapore on Tuesday calling for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

The two leaders kicked off what has been called “the summit of the century” at 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the Capella Hotel in Singapore’s southern resort island of Sentosa. At 1:40 p.m., after two meetings and a working lunch, they signed the agreement. Trump told reporters that it was “a pretty comprehensive document” and said he was “honored” to sign it and was “proud of what took place today.”

When asked whether the North agreed to denuclearize, Trump replied, “We’re starting the process very quickly.”

In forging the agreement, Kim said the two leaders had “decided to leave the past behind and sign a historic document.”

“The world will see a major change,” he said before expressing gratitude to Trump for “making this meeting happen.”

There was applause in the room as the two leaders signed the agreement. Trump said he envisioned a “different situation” in North Korea and the Korean Peninsula, adding that the two sides have forged a “special bond.”

In the joint statement, revealed later on, Trump committed to providing “security guarantees” to North Korea, while Kim reaffirmed his commitment to the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

It said the two leaders held “comprehensive, in-depth and sincere” discussions on issues related to the establishment of a new U.S.-North Korea relations and “the building of a lasting and robust peach regime on the Korean Peninsula.”

The four-point statement said that the sides agreed to: establish new U.S.-North Korea relations; build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula; reaffirm the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration which declared the common goal of the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula;” and commit to recovering remains of prisoners of war.

The two sides also committed to follow-up, high-level negotiations to implement the outcome of the summit and to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-North Korea relations and “for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and the security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.”

The two leaders were then photographed holding their own copy of the signed agreement. Trump was full of praise for Kim, calling him a "worthy" and "very smart negotiator" and a "talented man" who loves his country. He also called the meeting an opportunity to get to know each other's countries better.

Earlier in the morning, Kim arrived at the Capella Hotel first, accompanied by officials including his younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, vice director of propaganda in the Workers' Party. Trump arrived a few minutes later through another entrance to the hotel.

Trump's motorcade had departed from the Shangri-La Hotel in central Singapore, where the U.S. delegation is residing, while Kim’s convoy left from the St. Regis Hotel, just a few minutes away. The Singaporean authorities have designated both hotels as special event areas with high security.

Sentosa Island, known for its manmade beaches, golf courses, casino and Universal Studios theme park, has also been marked a special event area. The limited transportation options to the resort island made an ideal and secure location for the summit.

When they arrived, the two leaders greeted each other with a long handshake to begin the first talks between a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader as they tackle the difficult, longstanding issue of denuclearization. The meeting venue was lined with U.S. and North Korean flags, seen as a powerful and positive message about the future of the two countries’ relations.

Kim wore his trademark Mao suit, while Trump wore a dark suit paired with a red tie. The Swiss-educated Kim greeted Trump in English with, "Nice to meet you, Mr. President,” to indicate he was capable of holding a casual conversation without an interpreter. In their first photo op, Trump lightly placed his hand on Kim’s upper shoulder and back, and while they were not smiling for the picture, they were as they entered the meeting room.

Before starting their one-on-one talks, Trump told reporters while seated next to Kim that he expected a “great discussion” and “tremendous success” from the summit. “I think it’s going to be really successful,” he said, “and I think we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.”

His remarks elicited an immediate smile and chuckle from Kim, followed by a short nod. "It wasn't easy for us to come here,” Kim said in Korean. “For us, there was a past that grabbed our ankles and wrong prejudices and practices that at times covered our eyes and ears. We overcame all that and we are here now."

“That’s true,” Trump replied before reaching out to shake hands again with Kim. He quickly gave a thumbs-up to the North Korean leader before reporters exited the room for their closed-door talks. Only the two leaders and their interpreters remained.

The first meeting, which lasted about 40 minutes, has been touted as an important time for the two leaders to establish a relationship and bridge their expectations from each other — the United States hoping for the North’s complete denuclearization, and Kim requesting assurances for his regime’s security.

After their one-on-one in the morning, Trump said the discussion was "very, very good,” adding that he and Kim have an “excellent relationship.” Kim told reporters that the summit was a “prelude to peace.”

As they walked down a corridor to their next meeting location, where they would be accompanied by aides, Kim remarked to Trump through an interpreter that the world might view what was unfolding as a fantastic scene “from a science fiction movie.”

The next meeting lasted 100 minutes and included key aides. Trump was joined by Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state; John Bolton, the national security adviser; and John Kelly, the White House chief of staff. Kim Jong-un was accompanied by Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, who also oversees inter-Korean affairs; Ri Yong-ho, the foreign minister; and Ri Su-yong, director of the Central Committee’s International Department.

The meeting ended a little before noon and was followed by a working lunch around a long banquet table decorated with white flower bouquets in a sunlit room. More officials joined for this part. On the U.S. side was Sung Kim, the ambassador to the Philippines and former negotiator in denuclearization talks with the North; Matthew Pottinger, the deputy assistant to the president on Asian affairs; and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. North Korean officials included No Kwang-chol, the defense minister; Choe Son-hui, the vice foreign minister; and Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader’s younger sister.

On the menu was a blend of Western, Korean and other Asian dishes, including beef short rib confit and soy-braised cod fish. Dessert included dark chocolate tarts and Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream topped with cherry sauce, Trump’s favorite flavor.

The 112-room Capella Hotel, where the summit is taking place, opened in 2009. Designed by British architect Norman Foster, the location includes colonial and modern buildings surrounded by a rainforest. There are two presidential suites and meeting rooms with full-length windows that overlook the South China Sea. The hotel is also within walking distance from a major golf course.

After the hour-long lunch, the two leaders took a brief stroll on the hotel grounds unaccompanied by aides. Their interpreters were nearby, but Kim and Trump appeared to be chatting freely by themselves. Trump then walked Kim over to his car, a bulletproof Cadillac designated as the official state car of the U.S. president, and showed him the interior. Trump told reporters gathered around them that he had a “really fantastic meeting” with Kim and said there was a lot of “progress” and that they would sign an agreement.

Up until Monday, a team of diplomats led by North Korea’s Choe Son-hui and U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim engaged in last-minute, working-level negotiations to finalize details of the summit, details that will likely be part of the signed agreement.

The United States has been demanding complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization from North Korea. In turn, the North Koreans are calling for “complete, verifiable, irreversible guarantee” of regime security for Kim Jong-un. The two leaders’ historic meeting may possibly pave way for a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice agreement rather than a peace treaty.

While there has been much anticipation about Kim and Trump possibly striking a nuclear deal or reaching a big decision on their first sit-down meeting, Trump has recently indicated that this summit could be the start of a “process,” indicating there may be follow-up talks.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted: “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly....but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”

He continued in another tweet: “The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers.” He then referred to North Korea’s release of U.S. hostages and its halting of missile tests, research and launches, and added, “these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!”

Both leaders arrived in Singapore on Sunday - Kim on an Air China jet usually reserved for top Chinese officials and Trump aboard Air Force One, straight from a G-7 summit in Quebec, Canada.

Kim Jong-un, after staying low-key and out of sight during the day on Monday, emerged from his hotel in the evening and took a tour of Singapore’s key sites, including the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, accompanied by Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung. He was spotted smiling and looking relaxed as he toured the city, and even was spotted in a selfie with the two Singaporean ministers.

Their historic first summit follows escalated tensions, with North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and intercontinental ballistic missile launches last year. However, a period of détente followed North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, hosted by South Korea in February. Trump accepted Kim Jong-un’s invitation to a summit in early March, and preparations went underway for their first meeting, with the U.S. president even briefly calling off the summit in late May.

Trump is set to hold a press conference at around 4 p.m. after the summit concludes and is scheduled to depart from Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base later in the evening.

"We'll meet again,” Trump said after signing the agreement with Kim. “We'll meet many times." The remark served as a hint of more summits to come.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]