THEY shook hands, ate lunch, posed for photos and talked - and as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un did so, the world waited and watched enthralled.

The meeting between the two leaders was billed as the summit of the century. Whether or not it lives up to that hype will largely be determined by what follows after the historic meeting in Singapore in the coming weeks and months.

President Trump was in his usual form when he spoke with media for almost an hour in an extraordinary media conference. He was confident of a breakthrough in US-NK relations, but hedged his bets somewhat and placed much of the onus on his counterpart's shoulders.

Mr Trump was particularly impressed when Kim vowed to destroy a nuclear missile testing site.

"I think he'll do it. I really believe that - otherwise I wouldn't be doing this … It was really the engine-testing site in addition to all of the other things that they've agreed to do," he said.

But time will tell.

"I may stand before you in six months and say, 'Hey, I was wrong.' I don't know that I'll ever admit that, but I'll find some kind of excuse," he said, to the amusement of hundreds of journalists who gathered to listen to him.

The deal which Mr Trump and Chairman Kim agreed has already been criticised for lacking detail or a time-frame on when anything will be achieved by. Instead, it sought to establish new relations between the two countries.

But Kim has committed to "fully" move towards denuclearisation. In return, the US and South Korea will abandon their military exercises

Kim and Mr Trump spent almost 40 minutes of their summit with only translators, which is not normal diplomatic protocol. They were then joined by members of their own delegations for an extended bilateral.

The remains of prisoners of war from the 1950-1953 Korean War would also be repatriated - something Mr Trump said Kim agreed to very easily.

The US leader paid tribute to American student Otto Warmbier, who died of a brain damage after being arrested in North Korea. He said his death was not in vain and was a catalyst for the summit.

After lunch came a chance to pose for a picture many thought they would never see. On one side was the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a ruthless dictator, and the other the reality show host turned US President.

They shook hands and smiled. The handshake lasted 13 seconds and was without any of the vigorous antics other world leaders have endured from Mr Trump.

Nothing could ever be taken for granted or assumed, Mr Trump said - but he had been a deal maker "my whole life" and "it's my thing".

He added: "You can't ensure anything. All I can say is that they want to make a deal. That's what I do. My whole life has been deals. I've done great at it. That's what I do. And I know when somebody wants to deal and I know when somebody doesn't. A lot of politicians don't."

There were plenty of sledges of former US presidents, from Bill Clinton - who famously gave North Korea billions to abandon their nuclear program - to Barack Obama, who Mr Trump implied had allowed the situation to fester.

"This really could have been done I think easier a long time ago, but I know - I just feel very strongly, my instinct, my ability or talent, they want to make a deal and making a deal is a great thing for the world," said the President.

 

 

 

The signatures on the agreement Mr Trump and Chairman Kim hope will lead to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The signatures on the agreement Mr Trump and Chairman Kim hope will lead to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

Many doubted the pair would ever meet. Until last week the meeting was in doubt and it was only a few short months ago that Mr Trump derided Kim as "rocket man" for his attempts to establish nuclear missiles.

But the US President appeared to be satisfied the ends justified the means, acknowledging the summit might not have happened without the fiery rhetoric.

"Well at that time we needed perhaps fire and fury because we could not have allowed that kind of capability from the standpoint of the United States and certainly Japan wasn't going to allow it either," he said. "Japan is right next door."

He did not repeat the threats yesterday - in public or private. "That's a tough thing to talk about because I don't want to be threatening. They understood that."

At his media conference, he faced several questions about what exactly the US got from the meeting. He claimed he gave up nothing - and insisted the crippling sanctions would remain.

"The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor. Sanctions played a big role but they'll come off at that point. I hope it's gonna be soon. But they'll come off - as you know and as I have said, the sanctions right now remain but at a certain point I actually look forward to taking them off and they'll come off when we know we're down the road."

In other words, it would be business as usual until North Korea made moves towards denuclearisation.

"We talked about the guarantees and we talked about unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. This is the document that we just signed," said Mr Trump.

The wait may not be a long one. Kim has promised "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" in the document which both leaders signed at the end of their meeting.

"Today we have had a historic meeting, we decided to leave the past behind," Kim said through an interpreter.

"The world will see a major change. I would like to express my gratitude to President Trump for making this meeting happen."

Mr Trump added: "A lot of goodwill went into this, a lot of work, a lot of preparation. We're very proud of what took place today.

"We are prepared to start a new history and we are ready to write a new chapter between our two nations.

"We have developed a very special bond."

Asked how he could praise Kim as "talented" when he had along history of violent crimes against his people, Mr Trump responded: "He is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough, I don't say it was nice, he ran it - very few people at that age [could do it] you can take one out of 10,000 probably who could."

Many commentators contrasted his new-found affection for Kim to the contempt he showed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the G7 meeting at the weekend. He branded Mr Trudeau "weak" after he gave a news conference about US "bullying".

"When I got to the plane, I think Justin didn't know Air Force one has about 20 televisions, and I see the television and he's giving a news conference about how he will not be pushed around by the United States. I say, 'Push him around? We just shook hands.' It was very friendly."

He continued by saying he thought his friendship with Mr Trudeau was strong - but so was his bond with Kim.

"I think I have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim right now, I really do. I hope it's good because if it is we're going to solve a very big problem."

After their meeting, Kim said to Mr Trump through an interpreter: "Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy … from a science fiction movie."

For once, maybe the North Korean leader was right about something.

 

andrew.koubaridis@news.com.au



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