Trump, Kim claim victory at historic Singapore summit
The five-hour-long meeting looked more like a reality TV show than a diplomatic event
Last week's summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore undoubtedly deserved to be called “historic”. It marked the first meeting between an incumbent US President and a North Korean leader, and the whole world watched closely as Trump lurked Kim out of the cold like none of his predecessors ever attempted.
The two leaders are signing a joint declaration at the DPRK-US summit.
The joint statement issued by Kim and Trump.
Photo: Photo: EPADonald Trump (R) and Kim Jong-un (L) shake hands at the start of a historic summit.
Last week's summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore undoubtedly deserved to be called “historic”. It marked the first meeting between an incumbent US President and a North Korean leader, and the whole world watched closely as Trump lurked Kim out of the cold like none of his predecessors ever attempted. Shortly after, President Donald Trump even started assuring his followers on Twitter that they should now “sleep well”, because the nuclear threat from Pyongyang is over. He also expressed his confidence that Kim trusts him unconditionally, and that there is a bright future ahead of them as business partners and allies. However, this was a rather hasty announcement.
After the five-hour-long meeting, that looked more like a reality TV show than a diplomatic summit, the two leaders issued a joint statement, in which they promised to “build a lasting and stable peace regime” on the Korean Peninsula. Their claims, though, showed a deficiency in direct commitments that would lead to a peace treaty, replacing the armistice signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
The joint declaration also did not appear to make any significant progress in committing the North Koreans to the “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” of Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal, that the US administration seeks. The vaguely worded single-page document stated only that “DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, but failed to define what the process would entail.
For Washington, it means for Kim to put an end to his nuclear ambitions for good. But the North Korean interpretation is a more complex one. Possible conditions include ending the American military presence in South Korea. It may also mean scrapping the US regional nuclear umbrella - an arrangement under which Washington promises to retaliate if its allies are attacked with nuclear weapons.
Moreover, that statement showed the lack of fresh commitments between both nations and did not include a pledge by North Korea for an accounting of its missile and nuclear programmes - something many analysts saw before the summit as a test of its success. Trump, however, assured that strong verification of denuclearisation would be included in a final agreement, saying it was a detail his team would begin sorting out with the North Koreans this week.
What happens in the coming months will show whether the summit was a true breakthrough moment or a low point of American diplomacy. If this meeting sparks a diplomatic process that ends the North Korean nuclear threat, and heals one of the oldest open diplomatic sores in history, it will deserve a place in the pantheon of summits involving presidents like Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama. It is also very likely that the White House would use the summit to frame Trump as a courageous peacemaker, as he heads into troublesome midterm elections.
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