Vietnam Time

6/13/2018 8:41:14 AM

Kim invites Trump to visit Pyongyang as North hails 'radical switchover'

Kim Jong Un invited Donald Trump to visit North Korea during their historic summit and the U.S. President accepted, Pyongyang state media reported on Wednesday (June 13th), calling it the start of a "radical switchover".

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at a signing ceremony with U.S. President Donald Trump (not pictured) during their historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (SAUL LOEB/AFP)

The unprecedented encounter in Singapore on Tuesday saw the leader of the world's most powerful democracy shake hands with the third generation scion of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations' flags.

Kim agreed to the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula", a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that stopped short of long-standing U.S. demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.

In its first report on the landmark summit, the official KCNA news agency ran a glowing dispatch on the talks, describing them as an "epoch-making meeting" that would help foster "a radical switchover in the most hostile (North Korea)-U.S. relations".

The report said the two men each asked the other to visit their country.

"The two top leaders gladly accepted each other's invitation," KCNA said.

Pyongyang has reason to feel confident after the meeting which was a major coup for an isolated and heavily sanctioned regime that has long craved international legitimacy.

In a blockbusting press conference after the summit, Trump said the U.S. would halt military exercises with Seoul - something long sought by Pyongyang, which claims the drills are a rehearsal for invasion.

The U.S. stations around 30,000 troops in security ally South Korea to protect it from its neighbour, which invaded in 1950 in an attempt to reunify the peninsula by force.

"We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money," Trump told reporters, adding that "at some point" he wanted to withdraw U.S. troops from the South.

The KCNA report said Trump committed to ending the drills during his meeting with Kim.

It added that denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula would be dependent on the two sides "refraining from antagonising ... each other out of mutual understanding".

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump at the start of their historic U.S.-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018. (Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb)

SMILES AND HANDSHAKES

The Singapore summit was a potentially legacy-defining meeting for both men - comparable to president Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China, or Ronald Reagan's 1986 summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik.

World powers from China to Japan, the European Union and Russia welcomed its outcome - while cautioning it was only the first step towards resolving the nuclear stand-off with Pyongyang.

Many agreements have been made in the past with North Korea that have later fallen apart, and ahead of the meeting, critics expressed concerns that it risked being more about headlines than substantive progress.

In the event, KCNA said the two leaders ate and walked together, "deepening friendly feelings" towards each other.

After a day filled with smiles and handshakes watched around the world, the U.S. "committed to provide security guarantees" to North Korea, while Pyongyang committed to "work towards" denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

Melissa Hanham of the U.S.-based Centre for Nonproliferation Studies said on Twitter that North Korea had "already promised to do this many times," adding the two sides "still don't agree on what 'denuclearisation' means."

Asked about the issue - the crux of the summit - Trump said "we're starting that process" which would begin "very, very quickly", but gave no concrete details.

Speaking later as he flew out of Singapore bound for the U.S. territory of Guam - towards which Pyongyang last year threatened to lob missiles - Trump said he intended to hold North Korea to its word on denuclearisation.

"We're going to have to check it and we will check it. We'll check it very strongly," he told reporters on Air Force One./.

VNF/AFP  
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