President Donald Trump declared on Twitter on Wednesday that there was “no longer a nuclear treat from North Korea”, a bold and questionable claim following his summit with leader Kim Jong Un that produced few guarantees on how and when Pyongyang would disarm.
“Just landed — a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” he tweeted. “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!”
Trump and Kim were returning to their respective strongholds following the talks — but to far different receptions.
In Pyongyang, North Korean state media heralded claims of a victorious meeting with the US president; photos of him standing side-by-side with Trump on the world stage were splashed across newspapers. Trump, meanwhile, faced questions about whether he gave away too much in return for far too little when he bestowed a new legitimacy on Kim’s rule and agreed, at Pyongyang’s request, to end war games with Seoul that the allies had long portrayed as crucial to Asian safety.
There were worries, especially in Tokyo and Seoul, which have huge US military presences, about Trump agreeing to halt US military exercises with South Korea, which the North has long claimed were invasion preparations. That concession to Kim appeared to catch the Pentagon and officials in Seoul off guard, and some South Koreans were alarmed.
“The United States is our ally, so the joint military drills are still necessary to maintain our relationship with the US,” said Lee Jae Sung, from Incheon. “I think they will be continued for a while.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived at Osan Air Base south of Seoul from Singapore early Wednesday evening. He met for nearly an hour with Gen. Vincent Brooks, commander of US Forces Korea, at the air base before heading by motorcade to Seoul.
Pompeo will meet President Moon Jae-in on Thursday morning to discuss the summit. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is also heading to Seoul and is due to meet with Pompeo and his South Korean counterpart. Pompeo, the former CIA director, then plans to fly to Beijing to update the Chinese government on the talks.