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North Korea says Trump agreed to gradual disarmament, offered to halt drills

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published June 12, 2018 at 7:19 a.m. Updated June 12, 2018 at 6:40 p.m.

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President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un of North Korea head to a private, one-on-one meeting in Singapore.

7:40 A.M. WEDNESDAY (Singapore time):

North Korea says U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his intention during a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to halt joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that Trump also expressed his intention to offer security guarantees to North Korea and lift sanctions "over a period of good-will dialogue" between the two countries.

KCNA quoted Kim as saying that the North can take unspecified "additional good-will measures of next stage commensurate with them" if the United States takes genuine measures to build trust.

It also quoted Kim as saying it's "urgent to make a bold decision on halting irritating and hostile military actions against each other."

Annual military drills between the United States and South Korea have been a major source of tension on the Korean Peninsula. The North has called them an invasion rehearsal and responded with its own weapons tests.

Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

7 A.M. WEDNESDAY (Singapore time):

North Korea says President Donald Trump has agreed on a step-by-step denuclearization process by North Korea in return for reciprocal concessions from the United States during a summit with its leader Kim Jong Un.

The Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday the two leaders "shared recognition to the effect that it is important to abide by the principle of step-by-step and simultaneous action in achieving peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

U.S. officials had called for the North to take swift disarmament measures before getting major outside concessions and benefits.

Some experts say a step-by-step denuclearization process is a ploy to win concessions while delaying disarmament.

Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday for their countries' first-ever summit talks.

EARLIER:

SINGAPORE — President Donald Trump wrapped up his five-hour nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with warm words and hope for "a bright new future" for Kim's isolated and impoverished nation. Yet he immediately faced questions at home about whether he got little and gave away much in his push to make a deal with the young autocrat — including an agreement to halt U.S. military exercises with South Korea.

Meeting with staged ceremony on a Singapore island, Trump and Kim signed a joint statement Tuesday agreeing to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, although the timeline and tactics were left unclear. Trump later promised to end "war games," with ally South Korea, a concession to Kim that appeared to catch the Pentagon and Seoul government off guard and sowed confusion among Trump's Republican supporters in Washington.

While progress on the nuclear question was murky, the leaders spent the public portions of their five hours together expressing optimism and making a show of their new relationship. Trump declared he and Kim had developed "a very special bond." He gave Kim a glimpse of the presidential limousine. Kim, for his part, said the leaders had "decided to leave the past behind" and promised: "The world will see a major change."

Soon, Kim was on a plane headed home, while Trump held forth for more than an hour before the press on what he styled as a historic achievement to avert the prospect of nuclear war. Before leaving himself, Trump tossed out pronouncements on U.S. alliances, human rights and the nature of the accord that he and Kim had signed.

The details of how and when the North would denuclearize appear yet to be determined, as are the nature of the unspecified "protections" Trump is pledging to Kim and his government.

The Singapore accord largely amounts to an agreement to continue discussions, echoing previous public statements and commitments. It does not, for instance, include an agreement to take steps toward ending the technical state of warfare between the U.S. and North Korea.

Nor does it detail plans for North Korea to demolish a missile engine testing site, a concession Trump said he'd won, or Trump's promise to end military exercises in the South while negotiations between the U.S. and the North continue. Trump cast that decision as a cost-saving measure but also called the exercises "inappropriate" while talks continue. North Korea has long objected to the drills as a security threat.

It was unclear whether South Korea was aware of Trump's decision before he announced it publicly. U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement Tuesday it was unaware of any policy change. Trump phoned South Korean President Moon Jae-in after leaving Singapore to brief him on the discussions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew to Seoul Wednesday for follow-up meetings.

The U.S. has stationed combat troops in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in the 1950s and has used them in a variety of drills. The next scheduled major exercise, involving tens of thousands of troops, normally is held in August.

The Pentagon said Tuesday it was consulting with the White House and others but was silent on whether the August exercise would proceed. Mattis' chief spokeswoman, Dana W. White, told reporters he was "in full alignment" with Trump.

Lawmakers, too, were looking for details. Republicans emerged from a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence wanting more information on which exercises were on hold. Colorado Sen. Corey Gardner said Pence told them that small-scale exercises would continue but "war games will not." Pence's spokeswoman later denied that comment.

"There will be certain exercises that will continue." Gardner told AP, adding he hoped "there's further clarification what that means."

North Korea is believed to possess more than 50 nuclear warheads, with its atomic program spread across more than 100 sites constructed over decades to evade international inspections. Trump insisted that strong verification of denuclearization would be included in a final agreement, saying it was a detail his team would begin sorting out with the North Koreans next week.

The agreement's language on North Korea's nuclear program was similar to what the leaders of North and South Korea came up with at their own summit in April. Trump and Kim referred back to the so-called Panmunjom Declaration, which contained a weak commitment to denuclearization but no specifics on how to achieve it.

The U.S. president brushed off questions about his public embrace of the autocrat whose people have been oppressed for decades. He did say that Otto Warmbier, an American who died last year just days after his release from imprisonment in North Korea, "did not die in vain" because his death helped bring about the nuclear talks.

In the run-up to Tuesday's historic face-to-face with Kim, Trump had appeared unconcerned about the implications of feting an authoritarian leader accused by the U.S. of ordering the public assassination of his half brother with a nerve agent, executing his uncle by firing squad and presiding over a notorious gulag estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners.

In their joint statement, the two leaders promised to "build a lasting and stable peace regime" on the Korean Peninsula. Trump has dangled the prospect of economic investment in the North as a sweetener for giving up its nuclear weapons.

The formal document-signing, which also included an agreement to work to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action from the Korean War, followed a series of meetings at a luxury Singapore resort.

Ahead of the meeting, Trump had predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days. But in the hours before the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Trump would depart earlier than expected.

Kim said many of those watching would think it was a scene from a "science fiction movie."

Critics of the summit leapt at the leaders' handshake and the moonlight stroll Kim took Monday night along the glittering Singapore waterfront, saying it was further evidence that Trump was helping legitimize Kim on the world stage.

"It's a huge win for Kim Jong Un, who now — if nothing else — has the prestige and propaganda coup of meeting one on one with the president, while armed with a nuclear deterrent," said Michael Kovrig, a northeast Asia specialist at the International Crisis Group in Washington.

Trump responded that he was embracing diplomacy with Kim in hopes of saving as many as 30 million lives.

The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions for years as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pompeo held firm to Trump's position that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes — and said they would even increase if diplomatic discussions did not progress positively.

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BOLTAR says... June 12, 2018 at 8:23 a.m.

And after all the name calling, Kim confirmed Trump is truly a chump.

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skeptic1 says... June 12, 2018 at 8:24 a.m.

Teddy Roosevelt said that we should walk softly but carry a big stick. When Reagan took a hard line with the former Soviet Union the left screamed he was going to start a nuclear war, his hard line resulted in the Berlin Wall coming down and the breakup of the Soviet regime. Fast froward to 2018 and the left is doing the same thing, the difference now though is the left has such a pathological hatred for Trump even Nancy Pelosi is openly rooting for failure.

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BOLTAR says... June 12, 2018 at 8:55 a.m.

Trump took a hard line with Kim only if one confuses marshmallows and snowflakes with rocks and stones. Trump is a chump.

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23cal says... June 12, 2018 at 10:21 a.m.

The signed agreement was a big nothingburger, to use a right wing descriptive.
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This is the core of the agreement:
The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
*
The most remarkable aspect of the joint statement was what it didn’t contain. There was nothing about North Korea freezing plutonium and uranium programs, nothing about destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, nothing about allowing inspectors to return to nuclear sites, nothing about North Korea making a full declaration of its nuclear program, nothing about a timetable, nothing about verification, not even any clear pledge to permanently halt testing of nuclear weapons or long-range missiles.
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While recognizing this small step COULD POSSIBLY lead to great things, the same could be said of betting on a long shot at Oaklawn. I hope to see follow up on repatriating remains,but, let's face it: this really doesn't cost North Korea anything.
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Is it just me, or does anyone else see how contradictory this is:

"President Donald Trump says he sometimes "felt foolish" lobbing insults at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But he says without his harsh rhetoric, their summit may never have happened."
and
"Trump called the war games "tremendously expensive," suggested South Korea didn't contribute enough and said they would be "inappropriate" as the U.S. and North Korea negotiate a new relationship."
Empty bluster works but military drills don't? Come now.
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There were a couple of key phrases which deserve emphasis:
"complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" Un's phrase "work toward denuclearization" isn't the same thing.
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"the loosening of sanctions can only follow once the nuclear disarmament process has truly become irreversible."
That's right. Let's see what kind of giveaways happen and withhold judgement until that time.
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Sen. Lindsay Graham ...... says he not only wants to see details of the agreement the two leaders signed, he wants Congress to vote on the agreement." Well, since the "agreement" was a totally vague nothingburger, who really cares? The Republicans will vote for it so they can give a "win" to the orange buffoon, the Democrats will vote against it because it is so vague as to be meaningless. Meh.

( | suggest removal )

Delta123 says... June 12, 2018 at 10:49 a.m.

TDS

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BoudinMan says... June 12, 2018 at 10:58 a.m.

Seems like the right wing only cares what the U.N. says when it suits their narrative.

( | suggest removal )

RBear says... June 12, 2018 at 11:25 a.m.

Let's see how long it takes China to reactivate the Dandong bridge. Looking at Pompeo's statements over the weekend I could almost predict some of the walkbacks the US would be making with regards to security with North Korea. These are in contrast to the hard line hawkish statements made in years prior by even some in Trump's administration, namely Bolton.
...
skeptic's read on the Berlin Wall is so myopic it's ridiculous.l She gives ALL the praise to Reagan, yet ignores the fact that Mikhail Gorbachev openness was crucial to the changes in Eastern Europe and the eventual downfall of the Soviet Union. Such is the same with Trump and Kim. From her limited POV, Trump is the salvation of creation (she's Wowy in another skin), ignoring the fact that had Kim not been in the position he was in and open to talks this would not have happened. In fact, it almost didn't until Pompeo salvaged the talks.

( | suggest removal )

DoubleBlind says... June 12, 2018 at 12:30 p.m.

“Loves his people”...really?! How does having your own brother and other family members murdered indicative of Trump’s claim? How does the torture and murder of Otto Warmbier become something Trump called ‘very important’? Maybe Trump is considering whacking Don Jr. and Jarred.

( | suggest removal )

DoubleBlind says... June 12, 2018 at 12:42 p.m.

It’s actually quite appalling when you look at the human rights records of the list of other dictators like Kim whom Trump admires. The topic wasn’t even broached at yesterday’s made-for-(bad) reality TV ‘summit.’ Question for Trump’s evangelitard christofascist trolls: why so silent on this topic?

( | suggest removal )

mrcharles says... June 12, 2018 at 1:38 p.m.

"his people", a trump thought.

OMG, septic tank, trump got brutalized even without Vaseline. Putin, Xi, now dear leader. No one can be this thoughtless, but you do have a band of merry chumps.

23, you still fail to see having reason and intelligence, and analytical ability is not for the feeble minded lemming of the right. If Obama had done half of what trump has said and/or done, the right would have marched on washington in spite of all that ammunition Obama stored up not to step down after the election. I do appreciate your information but it is like explaing calculus to your parrot, it might talk but the thinking part is actually too hard beyond the basics.

Agree to think about thinking in the future. Oh, so major .

Delta123, surely even you with disdain for moderate to the left people surely for the sake of america you can see trump got rolled up and smoked like an old stogie.

the only thing now to wait for is to see how far fox entertainment will go to climb BS mountain bubble land. Bet fox and frauds will be slobbering over themselves next edition of "your brain on drugs!"

This cluster firetruck trump pulled off just emboldened Iran.

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