SINGAPORE: After decades of hostilities, the United States and North Korea are ready to write a new chapter in their relations, US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday (Jun 12), at the end of a landmark summit which saw the reclusive state's leader commit to a complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
North Korea has the potential to be a "great place", Mr Trump said, adding that there is "no limit" to what the country can achieve when it gives up its nuclear weapons and embraces commerce.
He said this at a press conference that stretched for more than an hour as he wrapped up his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday (Jun 12).
Just hours earlier, the two leaders had signed a joint document in which Mr Kim reaffirmed his "firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".
Mr Trump also committed to provide security guarantees to North Korea, without stating what those guarantees might be.
The two parties also said they would jointly work to build a "lasting and stable" peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Mr Trump said his talks with Mr Kim were "honest, direct and productive".
"We are prepared to start a new history and we are ready to write a new chapter between our nations," he said.
The US president said that Tuesday was the start of an "arduous process" but that "peace is always worth the effort".
"Anyone can make war but only the most courageous can make peace. The current state of affairs cannot endure forever," he added.
The North Korean leader, he added, has "an opportunity like no other to be remembered as the leader who ushered in a glorious new era of security and prosperity for his people".
Responding to questions from the media, Mr Trump also expressed confidence that Mr Kim would honour the commitments he had made.
"(Mr Kim) was very firm in the fact that he wants to do this. I think he might want to do this as much or even more than me as they see a very bright future for North Korea," he said.
"We signed a very comprehensive document today and I believe he's going to live up to that document. When he lands, I think he will start that process right away ... We have a great team. I think he wants to get it done."
Mr Trump said during the signing ceremony that he and Mr Kim had "developed a special bond".
Earlier in the day, the two leaders walked across the aisles towards each other at the Capella Hotel in Singapore's Sentosa island and shook hands as the world watched.
US TO STOP “WAR GAMES”
In his speech on Tuesday, Mr Trump said that he will travel to Pyongyang in the future and will invite Mr Kim to the White House "at the appropriate time".
He also said that US would be “stopping the war games", referring to joint military exercises with South Korea that North Korea has repeatedly said were an act of war.
“They're tremendously expensive, the amount of money that we spend on that is incredible. South Korea contributes but not 100 per cent ... The war games are very expensive, we pay for a great majority of them, we fly in bombers from Guam ... it's a very provocative situation.”
While North Korea has a “very substantial” nuclear arsenal, the denuclearisation process will begin “very, very soon” and will be done as fast as it can “mechanically and physically be done”, Mr Trump said in response to questions.
Mr Kim already agreed to destroy a missile engine testing site after the signing of the agreement, Mr Trump said.
“Scientifically you have to wait certain periods of time,” he stated. “Despite that, once you start the process it means it's pretty much over.”
Asked by Channel NewsAsia about the cost of denuclearisation, Mr Trump said he thinks South Korea and Japan will help "very greatly" in North Korea's development. Mr Trump added: "We won't have to help them".
The US President also said that the difference between the document signed with Mr Kim and previous agreements signed between US leaders and North Korea was that it was “very important” to the current administration.
“The other groups, maybe it wasn’t a priority … and it would’ve been easier back then. I'm not just blaming President Obama, this goes back 25 years. It should've happened.”
The sanctions the US has imposed on North Korea will remain but Mr Trump said that he looks forward to removing them. "The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor ... They'll come off when we know we're down the road, where it's not going to happen - nothing's going to happen."
FURTHER TALKS IN THE PIPELINE?
Mr Trump also said that he would "come back gladly" to Singapore, thanking Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whom he met on Monday and had described earlier in his speech as a "friend of mine".
"Your prime minister was fantastic ... he's done a great job. He was really welcoming ... it probably made a difference, actually."
On next steps, the US President said that his administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, would be getting together next week to "go over the details and to get this stuff done".
"We're also working very much with South Korea, we're working with Japan, we're working with China to a lesser extent, but we're working with China," he added.
"We've done a good job but if you don't get the ball over the goal line, it doesn't mean enough," he said.
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