Trump shrugs off Kim's human rights record

A casket team carries the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Robert E. Meyers a Korean War soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2015. Meyers' remains were identified decades after his unit was involved in combat operations near Sonchu North Korea

A casket team carries the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Robert E. Meyers a Korean War soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 2015. Meyers' remains were identified decades after his unit was involved in combat operations near Sonchu North Korea

At the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the United States and North Korea on Tuesday in Singapore, Trump and Kim pledged in a joint statement to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a bilateral meeting with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea June 14, 2018.

Both were aware that the once-unthinkable meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader was a media blockbuster, drawing journalists from around the world, global viewers and mobs of cellphone-waving onlookers in the Asian city-state chosen for their sit-down.

Although the Trump-Kim summit was focused on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the USA president brought up the Japanese abduction issue at Abe's request and conveyed to Kim Japan's stance, which is based on the 2002 Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, according to the source. Pompeo will likely try to persuade them to stick with the pressure.

North Korea is believed to possess more than 50 nuclear warheads, with its atomic program spread across more than 100 sites constructed over decades to evade global inspections.

"I find that question insulting and ridiculous and, frankly, ludicrous", Pompeo responded when asked about the lack of that wording in the agreement. The summit resulted in signature of a final document, which included the agreement to establish new bilateral relations, as well as the decision to join efforts to "build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula". Would you do me a favor? "It's a great, great step in moving forward in the world and I hope that we can continue this and I think it's a great, great opportunity for the world to see what's going to happen".

Joel Wit, a Stimson Center senior fellow and North Korea expert, told NPR that in such a timeline "you could probably disarm key portions of the North Korea nuclear program".

Trump's claim that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat is questionable considering Pyongyang's significant weapons arsenal. "We're hopeful that we can achieve that in the two and half years".

However, South Korean officials said they had no prior knowledge of the end of military exercises, pointing out that they were "vital" to east Asian security.

The United States maintains about 28,500 soldiers in South Korea, which remains in a technical state of war with the North after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

Since the 1970s, the United States and South Korea have held a major summertime exercise called Ulchi Freedom Guardian that involves tens of thousands of troops.

The agreement signed Tuesday by Trump and Kim also included provisions for future negotiations, hinting at the possibility of more meetings between the USA and North Korean leaders. U.S. Forces Korea said in a statement Tuesday it was unaware of any policy change.

Donald Trump has dismissed concerns about the widely condemned human rights record of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, praising him as a "tough guy", a "smart guy" and a "great negotiator". "With that being said, I have a very good relationship with President Xi of China", Trump said. It is unclear how or exactly when it was communicated.

In a statement North Korea agreed to work towards "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

Kim Jong-Un, left, inspects the ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in North Korea.

Trump has repeatedly touted his role in bringing the reclusive North Korea to the negotiating table, a feat that he says his predecessors were unable to pull off. Mr. Trump said in a news conference in Singapore earlier this week that the issue of human rights did not come up in his meeting with Kim.

We know that China's frustration with the DPRK's significant expansion of its nuclear activities, and its resentment of North Korea's seeming indifference to China's interests, led China to support strengthened United Nations sanctions in the Security Council and, more importantly, to step up enforcement of those sanctions. Speaking in Singapore, Trump said that Chinese restrictions on trade along its border with North Korea already appear to be weakening.

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