July 21, 2020 | News | No Comments
The US hopes to see "major disarmament" of nuclear-armed North Korea by the end of President Donald Trump’s first term in 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.
Speaking the day after an unprecedented summit between MR Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Mr Pompeo told reporters in Seoul negotiations on Pyongyang’s atomic arsenal could move forward quickly and would take place "most certainly in the president’s first term".
"Major disarmament… We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and half years," he said, adding that there is "a lot of work left to do".
At the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the US and North Korea on Tuesday in Singapore, Mr Trump and Kim pledged in a joint statement to work toward the "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".
However this stock phrase, favoured by Pyongyang, stopped short of longstanding US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.
When questioned on the wording of the statement, Mr Pompeo said Wednesday that Mr Trump’s intention was to allow the US the opportunity to pursue further productive conversations on the issue with Pyongyang.
"Let me assure you that ‘complete’ encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned. One can’t completely denuclearise without validating, authenticating," he said.
Mr Trump yesterday told Americans they could “sleep well”, safe in the knowledge that there is “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea”.
In a series of triumphant tweets as he flew home from Singapore, the US president hit out at “haters” who had doubted his strategy for dealing with Kim Jong-un.
Mr Trump said thanks to the agreement signed by both leaders at their summit that the United States was “safer” than the day he took office.
However critics questioned whether he was claiming victory too early, with Kim still holding a nuclear arsenal and given the North Korean regime’s untrustworthiness in the past.
There was further fallout to Mr Trump’s promise to end “war games” in the region as the unexpected announcement split opinion among Asian countries.
Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
China welcomed the news but Japan appeared critical, saying joint military exercises played a “vital role” in the region’s security and insisting there was “no change” in policy.
The confusion continued as US congressmen claimed Mike Pence, the US Vice President, had said some military exercises would continue. Mr Pence’s advisers pushed back on the claim.
A glimpse of how North Korean citizens got to view the summit was offered by the front pages of the main newspaper in the country, which is tightly regulated by the state.
The Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried scores of pictures showing Kim shaking hands and smiling with Mr Trump, who experts speculated would rarely have been seen by residents of the oppressive regime.
North Korean state media also reported that Kim had accepted the offer of a visit to the White House and Mr Trump had also agreed to visit Pyongyang.
Trump-Kim summit | Read more
Mr Trump, who touched down in America yesterday after holding talks with Kim and his advisers for five hours, framed the summit as a major breakthrough in a series of tweets.
Mr Trump wrote: “A year ago the pundits & talking heads, people that couldn’t do the job before, were begging for conciliation and peace – ‘please meet, don’t go to war.’ Now that we meet and have a great relationship with Kim Jong Un, the same haters shout out, ‘you shouldn’t meet, do not meet!’.”
“Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer – sleep well tonight!”
He later added: “Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. 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!”
Video: The meaning behind the leaders’ body language
China said on Wednesday that it supported Mr Trump’s announcement that the US would halt war games, adding that it shows China’s "dual suspension" proposal is practical.
Beijing has proposed what it calls a dual suspension, whereby North Korea suspends nuclear and missile tests, and South Korea and the US suspend military drills so they can sit down for talks.
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