Culminating a summit described by Kim Jong Un as something out of a “science fiction movie,” the North Korean dictator sat down at a ceremonial table in Singapore Tuesday and signed a document along with President Trump stating the rogue communist state would work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
The two leaders began the day with a one-on-one meeting then expanded the participants, with the U.S. team adding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Advisor John Bolton.
At a press conference prior to his departure, Trump told reporters he will end joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.
He said Kim has agreed to destroy a “major” missile testing site but provided no details.
The agreement provides “security guarantees” to Pyongyang. On Monday,
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked whether any security guarantees might include withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula but he declined to answer.
At the news conference Tuesday, Trump also said the agreement includes returning the remains of U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.
Asked what surprised him most during their meetings, Trump said Kim has a “great personality” and is “very smart. Good combination.”
He also said Kim is “a very talented man” and “loves his country very much.”
Pressed about North Korea’s horrific abuse of human rights, Trump said the situation must improve.
He did not reply to a reporter who asked if they discussed Otto Warmbier, the American student sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in 2016 for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster. Warmbier was sent home in a coma in June 2017 and died soon after.
The science fiction movie remark came as the two leaders walked on the colonnade of their meeting place, the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island.
Kim, according to a translator, told Trump, “Many people in the world will think of this as a (inaudible) form of fantasy … from a science fiction movie.”
In an interview with the Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity after the summit, Trump said he believes Kim will work toward dismantling his country’s nuclear program “virtually immediately.”
“I just think that we are now we are going to start the process of denuclearization of North Korea, and I believe that he’s going back and will start it virtually immediately – and he’s already indicated that and you look at what he’s done,” Trump said.
Discussing the remarkable turnaround from the tensions of last summer when Trump responded to Kim’s nuclear weapon testing with the threat of “fire and fury,” Trump said that “without the rhetoric we wouldn’t have been here.”
“So I think the rhetoric, I hated to do it, sometimes I felt foolish doing it, but we had no choice,” he said.
Trump said he believes Kim has “gone back to get this done.”
“He wants to get it done.”
But he said his administration is “going to have to check him.”
“And we will check him, we’ll check him very strongly. But he has a plan total and complete,” Trump said. “He’s got a total plan. It will get done.”
“I do trust him, yeah,” Trump said. “Maybe in a year you’ll be interviewing and I’ll say I made a mistake. It’s possible. We’’re dealing at a high level, a lot of things can change a lot of things are possible.”
Stephanopoulos pressed Trump on his previous criticism of North Korea’s human rights abuses, including starving his people, running labor camps and assassinating members of his own family.
“George, I’m given what I’m given,” Trump said. “This is what we have, this is where we are, and I can only tell you from my experience, and I’ve met him, I’ve spoken with him. I’ve met him. And this is, this has started early and it’s been very intense.
“I think that he really wants to do a great job for North Korea. I think he wants to de-nuke, without that, there’s nothing to discuss. It was on the table from the beginning, and you see a total denuclearization of North Korea – so important.”