In an iconic photo moment, President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met and shook hands Tuesday morning in Singapore, just before heading into meetings at the much-heralded summit. It happened shortly after 9:00 a.m. Singapore time, which was 8:00 p.m. Monday Central time.
Trump and Kim first had a one-on-one talk before they were joined by advisers for talks later in the morning. The White House said that the United States’ delegation at the larger meeting included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House chief of staff John Kelly, and National Security Adviser John Bolton.
The two leaders seemed to get along, and by the afternoon, had reached an agreement that each signed in front of the television cameras. The agreement calls for:
- work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”
- the U.S. has committed to providing “security guarantees” to Pyongyang
- the remains of U.S. POW/MIAs during the Korean War will be returned
- ending joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea
- follow-up negotiations, led by Pompeo and “a relevant high-level DPRK official” at the “earliest possible date”
Kim said through a translator, “We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind and we are about to sign a historic document.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump said the process is “really moving rapidly.”
“I just think that we are now going to start the process of denuclearization of North Korea, and I believe that he’s going back and will start it virtually immediately – and he’s already indicated that, and you look at what he’s done,” Trump said.
Whether North Korea will follow through remains to be seen, but Trump sounded optimistic after the summit. He told Hannity the two of them “got along from the beginning” and that Kim understood the need to dismantle his nuclear program.
“His country has to be de-nuked and he understood that, he fully understood that, he didn’t fight it,” Trump said.
The summit represented quite a turnaround from the tension of last summer, when Trump and Kim exchanged a war of words, with the American president warning the dictator of “fire and fury.”
Trump told Fox News that “without the rhetoric we wouldn’t have been here.”
“So I think the rhetoric, I hated to do it, sometimes I felt foolish doing it, but we had no choice,” he said.
Apparently, Trump had the idea last year to have basketball legend Dennis Rodman, who had become close to Kim Jong Un, give the N. Korean dictator a copy of Trump’s book, “The Art of The Deal.”
James Clapper, Obama’s former National Intel Director, who has been very vocal in his opposition to Pres. Trump, went on CNN and praised the President and Rodman after the summit, saying “I’ve long been an advocate of involving Dennis Rodman,”
Dennis Rodman also went on CNN – wearing a MAGA hat – and was brought to tears in praise of President Trump. He said Obama, “never gave him the time of day.”
The basketball legend said he was mocked and ridiculed by the media for his efforts to bridge the divide with North Korea… but he and Pres. Trump were right in the end. Rodman also said he had received “so many death threats” after returning home from his visit to North Korea.
While various commentators on CNN questioned whether Trump gave up too much and received too little, others pointed out that giving the N. Korean dictator his day in the limelight was a small price to pay in the pursuit of denuclearization, and that the suspension of joint military exercises with S. Korea was dependent on the continuation of the denuclearization process. So, from that perspective, Trump gave up very little to get the peace process moving forward.
Trump said he expected the denuclearization process to start “very, very quickly.”
Trump told the news conference that the process would be verified, and that the verification “will involve having a lot of people in North Korea.”
He also said Kim had told him North Korea was destroying a major engine-testing site used for missiles, but maintained that international sanctions on Pyongyang would stay in place for now.
Trump said joint military exercises with South Korea would be halted, and that the move would save Washington a tremendous amount of money and would not be revived “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”
Trump said he thinks “we’ll probably need another summit”– or at least a second meeting.
Talk will continue in coming days and weeks between representatives of both countries to hammer out the details of the agreement and how to proceed.
Kim Jong Un arrives in Singapore to cheers — and with his own toilet