Has the US-North Korea summit been a victory for peace?

Kim Jong Un promises ‘world will see a major change’ following unprecedented talks with Donald Trump

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un at the summit in Singapore in June
(Image credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has committed to rid his country of nuclear weapons, during a historic meeting with US President Donald Trump.

The two men shook hands, ate lunch together and signed a joint document, stating - among other points - that North Korea “commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”.

Trump described today’s talks in Singapore as “honest, direct and productive”, and told a gathering of international reporters that he would end America’s “war games” with Pyongyang. Meanwhile, Kim promised that “the world will see a major change”.

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The meeting was a “victory for peace”, writes Freddy Gray in the US edition of the Spectator.

“Trump has just given the North Korean people more hope than any other previous American president,” he continues, drawing comparisons with Ronald Reagan’s meeting with the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, which led to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

“Trump has changed the realpolitik of the Korean Peninsula”, and that’s “no small feat”, Gray adds.

But others have been cautious about lauding Trump’s supposed success.

“It is unclear if further negotiations will lead to the end goal of denuclearisation,” Anthony Ruggiero, senior fellow of Washington DC-based think tank Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Reuters. “This looks like a restatement of where we left negotiations more than ten years ago and not a major step forward.”

USA Today’s Susan Page argues that the leaders’ handshake was more historic than their words. The four-point agreement “fell short of previous international accords reached with Pyongyang and left big questions unanswered”, she says.

Trump indicated that tough sanctions on North Korea would be removed once the denuclearisation process was well under way, and said the US would stop staging joint military exercises with South Korea. But as Page points out, there are no deadlines, no timetables and no commitment to “complete, verifiable and irreversible” nuclear disarmament.

The language in today’s agreement was similarly vague to that in Kim’s April agreement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, she says, adding: “And it left unmentioned North Korea’s notorious human-rights abuses.”

According to The Washington Post, the agreement essentially “fell short of the kind of deal the US president himself has long said is needed”, leaving Trump “open to criticism that he has given Kim what he has long wanted - recognition, respect and legitimacy on the world stage as an equal - without getting anything substantive on nukes in return”.

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