History was made in the island state of Singapore on June 12 as the erstwhile foes, the US and North Korea, took a leap of faith to leave the past behind and crafted a deal that could pave the way for complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
The historic deal, although the details are still sketchy, was struck in a meeting that lasted for several hours between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Capella hotel resort in Sentosa Island in Singapore. The two leaders emerged after intense negotiations with smiling faces and a quiet resolve that they are ready to give peace a credible chance.
Both Mr Trump and Chairman Kim, who never tired of hurling choicest expletives at each other only a few months back, now sported the look of comrade-in-arms as they signed a joint statement that promises to bring lasting peace and stability to the Korean peninsula.
“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK and Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said the statement.
The Road Ahead
In a televised press conference that lasted for over an hour, Mr. Trump upheld his “America First” foreign policy and struck a positive note on how the deal will unfold in the near term. He promised North Korea security guarantees in return for the dismantling of nukes by the reclusive regime.
The maverick US leader claimed that he has managed to gain significant concessions from the North Korean leader. These concessions, according to Mr. Trump, included a detailed plan for denuclearization, release of the American hostages and bringing back the remains of the martyred American soldiers who died fighting in the Korean war decades ago.
Looking ahead, Mr Trump said that he expected the denuclearization process to start “very, very quickly” and revealed that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean officials would hold follow-up negotiations “at the earliest possible date.”
In his trademark swagger, Mr Trump said that Mr Kim was more eager on denuclearizing than he was and added that “when he lands, he will start with the process right away. He wants to get it done fast.”
Mr Trump, however, clarified that international sanctions on Pyongyang will stay for now as denuclearization “takes a long time, scientifically and mechanically.” Thus, “sanctions will come off when we are sure”, “until then, the sanctions will prevail,” he said.
In another major announcement that must have been music to the ears of the North Korean leader, Mr Trump said that the US will stop joint military exercises with South Korea and stressed that it would save Washington a tremendous amount of money.
Mr. Trump also announced that “he will be inviting Chairman Kim to the White House.” “We want to go further down the road.”
On being asked about the human rights violations in North Korea, Mr. Trump said “it’s a rough situation right there” but added casually: “It’s rough in many places and not just in North Korea.” “I now have good relations with Kim.”
President Trump also declared that North Koreans “are the great winners of today” and South Korea and Japan will help North Korea in denuclearizing.
High stakes for Trump
The deal has been widely welcomed across the world, including by India. New Delhi has termed the deal as a positive development, but at the same time reminded the world of its proliferation concerns – a veiled reference to illicit links between the nuclear programme of North Korea and Pakistan.
“It’s utterly realistic agreement. The US moved from the position of one-shot deal and conceded that it’s a process,” Vishnu Prakash, a veteran Korea watcher and a former ambassador of India to South Korea, told India Writes Network.
“It’s the first international agreement that US President Donald Trump has crafted – he wants to present it as a singular achievement of the Trump presidency. He has, therefore, high stakes in making it work,” he said.