WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, who returned to Washington on Wednesday after a historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, declared that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.
In a series of tweets, Trump not only sought credit for the summit but also claimed that the agreement he signed with Kim had made the world a safer place than it was before the meeting.
“Just landed — a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,” he tweeted from his car after landing in Washington. “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
The main Republican leadership in the US Congress agreed. “I congratulate the President on this major step and share his hope that it will begin a process that leads to an historic peace,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“For decades, American policy toward North Korea has failed, and I commend the president for not accepting the status quo,” said Speaker of the House of Representative Paul Ryan.
“As negotiations now advance, there is only one acceptable final outcome: complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.”
James Clapper, a former director of US National Intelligence, endorsed this view too. “We’re in a much better place ... where we’re on the diplomatic path, as opposed to where we were six or eight months ago,” he told CNN.
In one of his tweets, Trump described his meeting with Kim as an “interesting and very positive experience,” adding that he believes “North Korea has great potential for the future!”
In a separate tweet, he assured the world that North Korea was “no longer” America’s “biggest and most dangerous problem” and that US citizens and the rest of the world can “sleep well tonight!”
In a tweet from the White House, Trump also defended his decision to halt the joint military exercises with South Korea, which he called “war games” — a term used by Pyongyang. The US will “save a fortune” by halting these “war games”, he wrote.
The US media, often eager to criticise Trump, also acknowledged that establishing a communication line with North Korea and scheduling more talks was a major achievement, easing fears that the two sides were on a warpath.
Fox News and other conservative media outlets, that support Trump, observed that it would also help the Republican Party in the midterm election in November, when Americans will elect a new Congress.
Democrats, media unhappy
Mainstream media outlets like The Washington Post, NBC and CNN, however, were reluctant to describe the Trump-Kim summit as a major achievement, arguing that the US gave more than it gained. The New York Times was conciliatory, noting that a joint statement issued after the meeting “opened the door to ending seven decades of hostility” between the two countries. “Trump and Kim got what they wanted. The rest of the world, not so much,” commented The Washington Post newspaper.
This caused Trump to send out another tweet, ridiculing the mainstream media. “So funny to watch the Fake News, especially NBC and CNN. They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea,” he tweeted. “Our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools!”
But it is not just the media, which is not happy with the summit. Democratic lawmakers are also criticising President Trump, claiming that he offered real concessions to North Korea in exchange for just vague promises from Pyongyang.
“In his haste to reach an agreement, President Trump elevated North Korea to the level of the United States while preserving the regime’s status quo,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
In another scathing statement, Senator Brian Schatz said Trump’s actions represented “an abdication of American leadership” and was “just embarrassing”. Democratic lawmakers also criticised Trump calling Kim a “very talented man” who “loves his country very much,” and that he was “a very worthy, very smart negotiator”.
AFP adds, US hopes for ‘major’ N. Korea disarmament by 2020: The US hopes to see “major disarmament” of nuclear-armed North Korea by the end of President Donald Trump’s first term in 2020, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.
Pompeo told reporters in Seoul, negotiations on Pyongyang’s atomic arsenal could move forward quickly and would take place “most certainly in the president’s first term”. “Major disarmament ... We’re hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and half years,” he said, adding that there is “a lot of work left to do”.
When questioned on the wording of the statement, Pompeo said that Trump’s intention was to allow the US the opportunity to pursue further productive conversations on the issue with Pyongyang. “Let me assure you that ‘complete’ encompasses verifiable in the minds of everyone concerned. One can’t completely denuclearise without validating, authenticating,” he said.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2018