‘North Korea no longer biggest problem for US’

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un react at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un react at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018.
Image: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat, nor is it the biggest and most dangerous problem for the United States, President Donald Trump said on his return from a summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday.

The summit was the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader and followed a flurry of North Korean nuclear and missile tests and angry exchanges between Trump and Kim last year that fuelled fears of war.

“Everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” Trump said on Twitter.

“There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.

“Meeting with Kim was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”

On Tuesday, Trump told a news conference after the summit that he would like to lift sanctions against the North, but that this would not happen immediately.

North Korean state media lauded the summit as a resounding success, saying Trump expressed his intention to halt US-South Korea military exercises, offer security guarantees to the North and lift sanctions against it as relations improve.
Kim and Trump invited each other to their respective countries and both accepted, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said.

“Kim Jong-un and Trump had the 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 denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” the agency said.

Trump said the US would stop military exercises with South Korea while North Korea negotiated on denuclearisation. “We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith – which both sides are!” he said on Twitter.

US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said the reasoning for halting the exercises was ridiculous.

“It’s not a burden onto the American taxpayer to have a forward deployed force in South Korea,” Graham said. “It brings stability.

“It’s a warning to China that you can’t just take over the whole region. So I reject that analysis that it costs too much, but I do accept the proposition ‘let’s stand down [on military exercises] and see if we can find a better way here’.”

Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he hoped all parties could grasp the moment of positive changes to take constructive steps towards a political resolution and promoting denuclearisation.

“At this time, everyone had seen that North Korea has halted missile and nuclear tests, and the United States and South Korea have to an extent restricted their military actions. This has de facto realised China’s dual suspension proposal,” he told a daily news briefing.

“When it comes to Trump’s statement yesterday that he would halt South Korea and the United States’ military drills, I can only say that China’s proposal is indeed practical and reasonable, is in line with all sides’ interests and can resolve all sides’ concerns.”

China, North Korea’s main ally, proposed last year what it termed a dual suspension, whereby North Korea suspends nuclear and missile tests, and South Korea and the United States suspend military drills.