TrumpWatch, Day 508: Trump Gets His “Beautiful Photo” With Kim

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, Singapore, June 12, 2018

Trump hails his “very special bond” with North Korean leader


Developments on Day 508 of the Trump Administration:

See also Podcasts: Trump-Kim — Reality TV v. Tough Diplomacy, Round 1
Trump’s Trade War With Canada: The Story Behind the “270% Dairy Tariff”

5 Photo Opportunities — But Any Substance?

UPDATE 1645 GMT: Even during a summit, Donald Trump sees a business opportunity:

And Trump, given that his document with Kim makes no mention of verification of denuclearatization, offers a reassurance:

But, despite the self-confidence, there was a moment where Trump wavered:


UPDATE 1520 GMT: In a major concession to North Korea, Donald Trump has announced that the US will suspend “war games”, North Korea’s term for the US-South Korea joint military exercises that have been held for decades.

Trump asserted:

The war games are very expensive; we paid for a big majority of them, we fly in bombers from Guam. That’s a long time for these big massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practice and then drop bombs all over the place and then go back to Guam. I know a lot about airplanes, it’s very expensive.

But Trump appears to have changed US policy and operations without consulting the military, including the US Forces in Korea command:

A South Korean military official was also caught by surprise: ”Regarding President Trump’s comment regarding ending of the combined military drills..we need to find out the exact meaning or intention behind his comments at this point.”

Trump has also continued his fervent praise of Kim, setting aside any concerns over human rights issues such as mass detention and executions: “His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor.”


UPDATE, 0730 GMT: Adam Mount, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, explains that the “comprehensive” Trump-Kim document is actually a step back by Pyongyang over “denuclearization”:

It is no stronger and in fact considerably weaker than previous NK commitments on the nuclear issue….I quite frankly expected something tougher than this.

He noted that there is no mention of verifiable or irreversible removal of North Korean nuclear capabilities.

Mount still expressed hope for a process after today’s meeting: If the summit genuinely results in continued interactions, that result in a reduction of tension on the Peninsula, it will be seen as a success. Over time if we can reduce the conventional threat to South Korea, if we can raise human rights issue, that process could eventually in result in nuclear limits.”

See also Podcasts: Trump’s Path from G6+1 Destruction to Photo with Kim


Donald Trump has achieved his historic “beautiful photo” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in their summmit in Singapore.

In a day of five photo opportunities, Trump used the set pieces to proclaim that he has a “very special bond” with Kim. The two men met for 45 minutes, unaccompanied by officials except for translators. More photos were taken as they were joined by advisors, top official Kim Yong-chol and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on the North Korean side and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Trump asked photographers, “Are you getting a nice photo….So we look nice and handsome and beautiful and perfect?”

The five-hour event was capped by Trump and Kim signing a mystery document, hailed by the US President as “very important” and “pretty comprehensive”.

He gave no details, saying the document would be circulated later on Tuesday afternoon, Singapore time. Asked about “denuclearization”, the central tenet of US policy Trump said, “We’re starting that process very quickly, very, very quickly. Absolutely.” But when pressed if Kim had committed to 100% removal of North Korea’s nuclear capability, Trump avoided the question.

Instead, he continued a ramble of superlatives, including the special bond with a leader whom he derided as “Little Rocket Man” only a few months ago: “It’s been an honor to be with you.”

Trump then pointed to a further show with an invitation to Kim to the White House, saying, “I learned he’s a very talented man. I also learned he loves his country very much.”

Trump’s effusive praise of the North Korean leader was in marked contrast to his condemnation of US allies at last weekend’s G7 summit, culminating in the White House’s proclamation of a “special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other leaders.

See TrumpWatch, Day 507: “A Special Place in Hell” — Trump and Co. Attack US Allies

Kim, who appeared a bit uncertain in the unaccustomed international spotlight, issued a prepared statement at the first photo opportunity about leaving the past behind. At the document signing, he said, “The world will see major change”, again without offering any further substance.

In a final shot of the two men, walking alone as they left the signing, Trump was chattering to Kim, who reportedly has a limited grasp of English.

“Work Towards Complete Denuclearization”

A photograph of the “comprehensive document” revealed that, in fact, it is just over a page long with four points.

One is that North Korea will “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”, a restatement of Kim’s commitment to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in an April 27 meeting. There will also be efforts for “new US-DPRK [North Korea] relations” and “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula”, and discussions of the exchange of remains of those killed in the Korean War of the 1950s.

Negotiations will be carried out between Secretary of State Pompeo and a “relevant high-level” North Korean offical at “the earliest possible opportunity”.

TRUMP NORTH KOREA DOCUMENT

Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, the key economic link for North Korea, said he hoped the summit will help “clear interferences, establish mutual trust and overcome difficulties so that they will reach a basic consensus on, and take concrete steps toward, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

He continued, “We hope all relevant sides will make an effort toward this and China will continue to play a constructive role.”

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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