President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday signed a joint agreement, after meeting in person for only a few hours, in which Kim promises to work toward ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons.
But the text of the agreement contained few concrete steps to achieve that goal other than a commitment “to hold follow-on negotiations … at the earliest possible date,” according to a photo of the document.
Still, Trump called the document “pretty comprehensive” and Kim “a worthy negotiator,” pledging to invite the North Korean leader to the White House in the future.
“Today, we had a historic meeting and have agreed to leave the past behind,” Kim added. “The world will see a major change.”
Meanwhile, Trump told reporters that he learned during their visit Kim is a “very talented man. I also learned that he loves his country very much.”
Trump and Kim met for several hours on Tuesday at a luxury hotel in Singapore for the historic summit, which was meant to broker a greater relationship between the two countries. It was the first time a sitting U.S. president had met with a North Korean leader.
Before TV cameras and their one-on-one meeting, Trump treated the North Korean totalitarian leader as a peer. He flattered Kim by telling him it was an “honor” to meet him and predicted the two would have a “fantastic relationship.” This came just days after Trump openly fought with traditional U.S. allies including Canada, Germany, and France over trade policy at the G-7 meeting in Canada.
Politically, Trump’s meeting with Kim gave him the opportunity to play the role of statesman and dealmaker ahead of the crucial 2018 midterm elections — even if critics worried the summit was more of a photo-op than any substantive discussion to delay a potential military conflict.
“We had a really fantastic meeting. A lot of progress. Really, very positive, I think better than anybody could have expected, top of the line, really good,” Trump said earlier in the day about the historic summit, which has potentially far-reaching consequences for the North’s nuclear program and America’s national security.
Yet it remains unclear if the meeting will eventually lead to tangible concessions from either side — including a possible exchange of security guarantees by the U.S. in return for a pledge by Kim to surrender his nuclear arsenal.
The joint statement did address the issue, saying Trump had “committed to provide security guarantees” to North Korea, while Kim had “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
But the comments don’t go much past what the two leaders have already said publicly. Kim also made a similar pledge at the conclusion of an April summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, at which the two leaders signed the so-called the Panmunjom Declaration.