President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended their historic meeting with a Singapore by signing a joint statement. The document promised “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” without detailing exactly what that would entail.
“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,” the statement said, using the North’s acronym for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK,” it continued, “and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The pair signed the document at a ceremony where, according to press pool reports, Kim said through a translator that the pair “decided to leave the past behind” and “are about to make a historic change.” He also expressed “gratitude” toward Trump for joining the talks. Trump said they would begin the denuclearization process “very quickly” and, in response to shouted questions from reporters, said the two would “meet many times” in the future.
Their statement described the initial summit as “an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future.”
Their remarks echoed positive comments they made throughout their hours of meetings at the Singaporean resort of Sentosa Island on Tuesday. It was the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a leader of North Korea since the country’s founding in 1948, when the Korean Peninsula was divided and Kim’s family began its rule. For most of the ensuing 70 years, the U.S. has technically been at war with the repressive regime, because the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice rather than a formal peace treaty.
The sight of the two men walking side by side and praising each other before the cameras was a stark contrast to the first year of the Trump administration, when the pair regularly exchanged threats as Kim conducted repeated nuclear missile tests and ramped up tensions in the region to their highest level in decades. Trump’s road to the summit began late last year, when Kim made a series of overtures to South Korea, a U.S. ally, that culminated in talks between the two neighbors. Kim also made gestures toward the U.S., including the release last month of American detainees that had been held in North Korea.
Despite the optimism Trump and Kim expressed at their meeting, the agreement they signed contained few specifics of how the pair would move toward peace. There was no description of which programs North Korea would have to cease to be considered denuclearized — or how its cooperation would be monitored. North Korea and the U.S. do not have formal diplomatic relations. While the statement promised that there would be “new” relations between the two countries, it did not say at what level or provide any information about any potential withdrawal of the stiff sanctions the U.S. has imposed on North Korea.
The joint statement signed by Trump and Kim included four key points. The pair pledged “to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.” Trump and Kim promised to join their efforts “to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” Kim reaffirmed a declaration he adopted during his April meetings with South Korea to work with that country on a formal end to the Korean War. Last, Trump and Kim said they would cooperate on recovering remains of prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action from that conflict “including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.”
Trump and Kim’s joint statement was not distributed to the press at the signing. Yahoo News was able to obtain the text by zooming in on photos of the documents the pair displayed at the event.
Perhaps the most concrete outcome of the statement was a commitment to “hold follow up negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official at the earliest possible date.”
Trump and Kim shook hands before the latter’s departure Tuesday afternoon. As they bid farewell, Trump responded to shouted questions from reporters. He said they planned to meet “many times.” Trump was also asked if he would invite Kim to the White House.
“Absolutely I will,” Trump said.