The leader of the world’s biggest economic and political power, President Donald Trump, appeared to have scored a spectacular diplomatic and geopolitical coup by meeting lengthily with the leader of the world’s biggest bully nation, Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
As a journalist of more than 48 years, I had huge reservation about the desirability of a meeting between the world’s biggest policeman and the neighborhood’s biggest recalcitrant bully.
As a master of the art of the deal, Trump proved himself equal to the historic epoch-making occasion. Though details are not clear, the first meeting between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea proved to be a resounding success for many reasons. Note that when two fully armed warriors stop threatening to shoot each other, that’s good enough.
Trump described his talk with Chairman Kim as “great, heartfelt” and the meeting “intensive, direct.” He said he achieved a “tremendous relationship” with the North Korea leader. “We have done a good job,” he declared. Trump stressed “we gave up nothing.” Still, there was no binding agreement on denuclearization, leading cynics to comment the summit produced nothing positive in America’s favor. One big thing North Korea got: Trump will stop war games in tandem with South Korea. Trump said the issue of human rights in North Korea was discussed, although he admitted “it was rough.” Another thing Kim got: Trump seems to trust him better that he trust the leader of one of America’s closest allies, Justin Trudeau of Canada.
So confident was Trump with his Singapore summit success he held an extended press conference about the summit for more than an hour. The meeting with the media was a virtuoso performance, combining flattery, hyperbole, lying, showmanship and warmth. After the 55-minute press conference, the usually hostile press warmly applauded Trump.
“I will do whatever it takes to make the world a safer place,” the US president said. He claimed he probably saved about 30 million lives, calculating inaccurately that Seoul, the South Korean capital, has 28 million population. Wikipedia reckons Seoul has 10 million people. Trump was probably referring to the population of what they call Seoul Capital Area which Wikipedia estimates at 25 million as of 2017.
“The ultimate objective we seek from diplomacy with North Korea has not changed,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a June 11 press briefing in Singapore ahead of the summit.
“The complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept,” Pompeo said.
Here is the text of the 358-word joint communiqué:
“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. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit—the first in history—was 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, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.”