South Korean President Moon Jae-In said the world had escaped the threat of war after this week’s Singapore summit, echoing US President Donald Trump’s upbeat assessment of his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump and Kim issued a joint statement after their historic meeting that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, an end to joint US-South Korean military exercises and gave US guarantees of security to North Korea, reports Reuters.
“There have been many analyses on the outcome of the summit but I think what’s most important was that the people of the world, including those in the United States, Japan and Koreans, have all been able to escape the threat of war, nuclear weapons and missiles,” Moon told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday ahead of a meeting between the two in Seoul.
The summit statement provided no details on when Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons program or how the dismantling might be verified.
Sceptics of how much the meeting achieved pointed to the North Korean leadership’s long-held view that nuclear weapons are a bulwark against what it fears are US plans to overthrow it and unite the Korean peninsula.
“I am confident that we took a very good, significant step in Singapore,” Pompeo told Moon on Thursday ahead of a trilateral meeting including Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
Pompeo insisted after the meeting that Pyongyang was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one”.
Kim Jong Un understood getting rid of his nuclear arsenal needed to be done quickly and there would only be relief from stringent UN sanctions on North Korea after its “complete denuclearization”, Pompeo said.
The United States has long insisted on complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation by North Korea but, in the summit statement, North Korea committed only to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, phrasing it has used in the past.
Pompeo said a day earlier he would like to accomplish major nuclear disarmament in North Korea within Trump’s current term.
“Absolutely... you used the term major, major disarmament, something like that? We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the 2-1/2 years,” he said.
Pompeo, who is charged by Trump with leading follow-on negotiations, bristled at a question about why the words “verifiable” and “irreversible” were not used in the summit joint statement in the context of denuclearisation.
“It’s in the statement. You’re just wrong about that... Because complete encompasses verifiable and irreversible. I suppose you could argue semantics, but let me assure you that it’s in the document,” Pompeo said on Wednesday.
Trump returned to the United States on Wednesday and took to Twitter to hail the meeting, the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, as a major win for American security.
“Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” Trump tweeted. “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”
Democratic critics in the United States said the agreement was short on detail and the Republican president had made too many concessions to Kim, whose country is under UN sanctions for its nuclear and weapons programs and is widely condemned for human rights abuses.
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