The leaders of the United States and North Korea met for the first time in Singapore Tuesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held direct talks about the North’s nuclear activities and other issues. Then, they were joined by top advisers.
The two men signed an agreement at the end of five hours of meetings.
In the agreement, Kim expressed his “firm and unwavering” support for “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. Trump offered “to provide security guarantees” to North Korea.
The historic meeting was the first between a North Korean leader and a U.S. president while he was still in office.
Historic meeting in Singapore
Tuesday morning Trump shook hands with the North Korean leader in front of U.S. and North Korean flags at the Capella Hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island.
The president said he believed he would be able to get along with Kim. "We will have a terrific relationship, no doubt."
Kim said, "We overcame all odds to come here."
Then, the two leaders met for a one-on-one meeting for about 40 minutes. What exactly they discussed has yet to be made public.
After that meeting, the leaders joined with top aides for extended talks. The U.S. side included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Among those with Kim was Kim Yong Chol, who met with Trump at the White House last week.
Trump called the document he and Kim signed “comprehensive.” It calls for the U.S. and North Korea to jointly work on efforts to build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. It calls on the two sides to work together on establishing new relations and to recover the remains of prisoners of war and military members missing in action.
The two sides also promised to hold additional negotiations.
Trump says talks a success, but seeks actions in return
Trump told VOA after the talks that the agreement was the result of months of negotiations. "You know that could have ended in a war," Trump said.
He added, "But we ended with a deal."
Trump said that U.S. troops based in South Korea will stay where they are, but he announced an end to military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea.
“We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should...”
Later, Trump told reporters that existing U.S. sanctions against North Korea will remain in place until the North’s nuclear weapons "are no longer a factor." Those measures are designed to punish the North Korean government for its nuclear activities.
Trump said he and Kim discussed the possibility of ending the North’s nuclear weapons program. He said that efforts to confirm denuclearization would be achieved "by having a lot of people there." He also predicted Kim would begin work right away to "live up" to the agreement.
Experts estimate that North Korea has between 20 and 80 nuclear weapons.
Trump said he and Kim only very briefly talked about human rights, but that the two sides would discuss it more in the future.
When asked about thousands of people held in labor camps, Trump said he thinks he has helped them because things in North Korea will change.
"I think they are one of the great winners today," he said.
Trump spoke about American college student Otto Warmbier, who was arrested by North Korean officials in 2016. Warmbier died a year ago after he returned to the United States with severe brain damage.
"Otto did not die in vain,” Trump said. “He had a lot to do with us being here today.”
After the meeting, Trump told reporters that he also raised the issue of Japanese citizens seized by North Korea. He said negotiators would work on that issue.
South Korea watching closely
The meeting was closely watched by South Koreans.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a cabinet meeting as the Singapore meeting took place.
Moon played a strong part in organizing the talks between the U.S. and North Korean leaders, which Trump cancelled at one point.
North and South Korea are still technically at war because a peace treaty has never been signed to end the Korean War.
Some observers have criticized Trump for agreeing to meet with the North Korean leader. They said the move represented a major concession to the North for little in return.
Before the talks, Trump said the release of “three hostages” was enough for him to go ahead with the meeting.
Speaking to VOA after the meeting, Trump said he had great feelings for the North Korean people. He said because of the developments with the North’s leaders, “great things are going to happen for North Korea.”
I’m Mario Ritter.
Mario Ritter wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from VOANews.com and the Associated Press. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
unwavering – adj. continuing in a strong way
all odds – idiom. being very unlikely
comprehensive – adj. complete or inclusive
tremendous – adj. huge; very great
factor – n. a service used in the process of production
peninsula – n. land surrounded by water on nearly all sides
vain – adj. having no success
achieve – v. to reach; to carry out
concession – n. the act of surrendering something