Confusion over details of Singapore Summit agreement

North Korean State media says Trump "expressed his intention" to lift sanctions

Confusion over details of Singapore Summit agreement

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets US President Donald in Singapore, 12-06-2018. Image: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images

Both the US and North Korea are claiming victory after yesterday's historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang's state media is reporting that Donald Trump has "expressed his intention" to lift crippling sanctions against the country and that the US President has agreed to a state visit.

The KNCA news agency said President Trump agreed to lift sanctions as relations improve, offer North Korea security guarantees and halt US-South Korea military exercises.

That is despite the US president’s insistence the sanctions will remain until "nukes are no longer a factor."

Denuclearisation

President Trump and Chairman Kim signed an agreement pledging to work towards the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" at the summit in Singapore yesterday.

The US president told reporters after the meeting that he would like sanctions to be lifted but warned that this could not happen immediately.

Neither sanctions nor the war games are included in the signed agreement.

US President Donald Trump answers media questions about the summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, 12-06-2018. Image: AP Photo/Wong Maye-E

On the record

The confusion over what was agreed will go some way towards justifying fears expressed before the summit about the risks of having the two leaders sit down for their first meeting with no aides or advisers to record what was said.

Today's six-page edition of the North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun has been dominated by photos of the two leaders shaking hands, strolling around the hotel together and enjoying lunch.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, President Trump proclaimed that the world had "taken a big step back from potential nuclear catastrophe."

He tweeted: "No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research!

"The hostages are back home with their families.

"Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!"

People celebrate as they watch a TV showing US President Donald Trump meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Seoul Railway Station, South Korea, 12-06-2018. Image: AP/Press Association Images

War games

Meanwhile, North Korea's neighbours have expressed concern over President Trump's promise to stop joint military exercises with South Korea - drills which have long angered Pyongyang.

KCNA reported that Chairman Kim had said it was "urgent" for North Korea and the US to halt "irritating and hostile military actions against each other."

The news agency's report quoted Chairman Kim as saying that the two countries should commit to avoid antagonising each other and take legal, institutional steps to guarantee this.

The report added that President Trump said he "understood" and promised to stop the exercises while the two sides were talking.

President Trump himself described the exercises as expensive and "very provocative."

Deterrent

South Korea and Japan both depend heavily on the US presence in their countries as a deterrent against North Korea.

Japan's defence minister Itsunori Onodera said the joint exercises were "vital" for security, adding: "We would like to seek an understanding of this between Japan, the US and South Korea."

South Korea's presidential Blue House said it needed "to find out the precise meaning or intentions" of President Trump's statement.

Win for Kim

With no concrete commitments for denuclearisation by North Korea and no reference to the country's terrible human rights record, many critics say the summit was a missed opportunity for the US leader.

Former US vice president Joe Biden said President Trump had given North Korea multiple "wins up front without getting anything in return.”

He accused President Trump of taking "an inexcusable and irresponsible approach" by not being fully prepared for the meeting.

Moon Seong-mook, a former South Korean military official and current head of the Unification Strategy Centre in Seoul, said the summit had been a "win" for Chairman Kim.

"I am concerned that the summit between Trump and Kim will prove to be a setback in the global efforts to denuclearise North Korea and also introduce instability in the alliance between Seoul and Washington," he said.