SINGAPORE — After a historic summit that scored North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s signed pledge committing to “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” President Trump said Tuesday it was a great moment for the world.
“We are prepared to start a new history and we are prepared to write a new chapter between our nations,” he told reporters at the summit site at Capella Hotel.
He ticked off a laundry list of concessions the U.S. won from North Korea:
• The release of three U.S citizens imprisoned in North Korea.
• The return of remains of soldiers still missing in action (MIA) from the Korean War.
• Halt of missile and nuclear tests.
• Destruction of nuclear test site.
• Commitment to destroy a missile engine test site.
Mr. Trump said the MIAs and the missile engine site were not on the negotiating agenda. But he added those items and Mr. Kim quickly agreed.
He stressed that he trusted Mr. Kim to follow through on his commitments, saying he believe Mr. Kim wanted a better future for the North Korean people.
The thrust of the deal offered by Mr. Trump was the chance from North Korea to end its isolation, joint the community of free nations and enjoy an economic renaissance.
From a real estate perspective, said Mr. Trump, North Korea’s location between China and South Korea could make it an economic powerhouse.
Insisting that Mr. Kim wouldn’t renege on the deal like his father and grandfather did, the president said that times and the Trump administration were different.
“This isn’t the past. This isn’t another administration that never got it started and therefore never got it done,” said Mr. Trump, basking in the summit’s apparent success.
He said he sized up Mr. Kim quickly at the meeting, just as he said he would do.
“All I can say is that he wanted to make a deal,” Mr. Trump said. “That’s what I do. My whole like has been deals.”
Mr. Trump’s decision to meet face-to-face with the North Korean dictator broke with decades of U.S. policy and prevailing diplomatic wisdom. There were dire warnings that he would add legitimacy to Mr. Kim’s brutal regime and likely gain little in return.
The president relished the apparent success of the gambit.
“I will do whatever it takes to make the world a safer place,” he said.
The biggest concession by Mr. Trump was a pledge to end annual war games conducted with South Korea, which Pyongyang viewed as a test run for an invasion.
“It’s a very provocative situation,” Mr. Trump said. “Number One, we save money. Number Two, I think it’s something [North Koreans] very much appreciate.”
The U.S. agreed to security guarantees for the Kim regime, but Mr. Trump said that would not entail a drawdown of the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea.
Mr. Trump said he wanted to someday bring the troops home when the North Korea threat was over.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said “unique” security guarantees would be key to winning Mr. Kim’s commitment to denuclearization.
The declaration was light on specifics for both the security guarantee and the path to denuclearization.
Much more work remains to hash out the details and a timetable for North Korea’s commitment. Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo plan to coordinate with key allies in the region, especially South Korea and Japan.
Immediately after the talks ended, Mr. Pompeo made calls to his counterparts in South Korea and Japan to update them on the progress.
Mr. Trump said he would do the same.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that sanctions relief could be considered for North Korea in light of the “comprehensive” document aimed at denuclearization.
Mr. Trump disagreed.
“The sanctions will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor,” he said. “The sanctions right now remain. They’ll come off when we know we’re down the road and nothing is going to happen.”
Critics said the summit was a glorified photo-op. But Mr. Trump came out of the unprecedented meeting appearing to have established a warm, personal bond with the North Korean leader, only months after trading bitter personal insults with him and warning that Pyongyang would face “fire and fury” if North Korea’s missiles attacked the U.S.
Even analysts who regularly oppose Mr. Trump said the summit seemed to have lessened the chances of military conflict with North Korea.
However, some critics on social media said the four-point document calling for a “lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula” is similar in some respects to an agreement that both nations reached in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. Since then, North Korea has made huge strides in developing its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
The next round of talks between top U.S. and North Korean officials are expected to start next week.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim also plan to meet again, and the president said he was considering bring Mr. Kim to the White House or visiting Pyongyang when the time was right.
The summit’s joint declaration secured a commitment from the North Korean leader to recover the remains of U.S. service members killed during the 1950-53 Korean War.
The issue was one of four points in the final document signed by the two leaders as they wrapped up their historic summit.
There are remains of an estimated 5,300 missing American service members in North Korea. But efforts to recover them had stalled as tensions rose over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
The two sides “commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified,” the document states without offering a timetable.
Veterans’ groups had been lobbying for the issue to be included on the summit agenda.
• Dave Boyer reported from Washington.