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Historic Summit with Weak Outcome

Historic Summit with Weak Outcome

12 June 2018

President Trump has met with DPRK President Kim Jong-un in Singapore for a historic summit. Just months after the two leaders exchanged insults, Trump said he was ‘honoured’ to meet the ‘talented’ President Kim, a marked contrast to how the US President behaved towards Canada and European allies in Quebec.

In a much hyped summit, the two leaders signed a declaration which stated they were committed to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. But according to most experts there was nothing new in the statement and some considered it even weaker than what was agreed in 1994. Most regarded the summit as a major victory for Kim who was able to bask in the glow of the summit.

Professor Robert Kelly said it was ‘depressing’ in substance while Aiden Foster-Carter called it a ‘thin, meaningless document’ that would be unlikely to impress Trump’s base.

In his press conference, President Trump further startled observers by stating that the US would suspend ‘provocative’ military exercises with South Korea. On denuclearisation, he said that Kim had agreed to it being ‘verified’ and that the DPRK leader had also agreed to destroy a ‘major missile engine testing site.’ But he said sanctions would remain in place for now.

China, which was instrumental in persuading Kim to attend the summit (and who provided his plane) seemed pleased at the outcome. Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the summit as an "equal dialogue" between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. He also said it was exactly what China had always wanted and added that "no one will doubt the unique and important role played by China: a role which will continue." 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who had been a key promoter of the summit, said that ‘the two Koreas and US will write a new history of peace and co-operation.’ It became clear that Trump had not consulted Moon on the suspension of the joint military exercises. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the outcome as ‘a step towards the comprehensive resolution of issues around North Korea.’

The EU statement said that the summit reaffirmed ‘our strong conviction that diplomacy is the only way forward towards lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.’ The statement praised the ‘leadership, wisdom and determination of President Moon’ and added that the EU was ready ‘to facilitate and support the follow-on negotiations and other steps aimed at building confidence and ensuring long-lasting peace, security and prosperity on a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons.’