While there are many who will claim that today’s non-binding agreement between Trump and Kim amounts to little, as it has produced few if any specific new commitments from Pyongyang to surrender its nuclear weapons and is just the first of numerous “follow-on negotiations“, the US president certainly does not see events in that light and Trump’s victory lap has started after his meeting with Kim Jong Un.
Reporters are gathered for a press conference, having been forced to piece together the contents of the letter signed by Trump and Kim from the photo of the agreement held up by Trump.
Watch Trump’s press conference live below.
Speaking to reporters, president Trump said North Korea leader Kim Jong Un “understands that and wants to do what’s right” and thanks Kim for “taking first bold step.”
Trump said that “real change is indeed possible” and that the meeting was “honest, direct and productive.”
Trump also said that while North Korea has committed to denuclearize, “in the meantime, the sanctions will remain in effect.”
Earlier, Trump and Kim signed a document that included a commitment from North Korea to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” while leaving undefined the path to eliminating Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal or verifying its dismantling.
Under the agreement, Trump committed to provide unspecified “security guarantees” to Kim, as the two sides promised to continue talks.
Trump also complimented Kim, saying that anyone able to start running a country at the age of 26 “is very talented” and that the North Korean leader was able to “run it tough.”
Trump says he did discuss human rights issues with Kim; “It’s a rough situation over there”; adds it’s “rough in a lot of places by the way.”
Discussing the tragic death of Otto Warmbier, the Univ. of Virginia student who died in the U.S. after being held in North Korea, “did not die in vain” as the talks probably wouldn’t have happened without his death Trump said.
But most importantly, Trump said the while U.S. will not reduce troop presence in South Korea – clarifying that he’d like to bring military home someday, it’s “not part of the equation right now” – Trump said “we will be stopping the war games.”
In a separate ABC interview, Trump said he didn’t discuss pulling of U.S. troops of South Korea with Kim, “but we’re not going to play the war games… I thought they were very provocative but they’re also very expensive.”
Trump also told ABC he trusts Kim, and that Kim wants to de-nuke. “Without that there’s nothing to discuss. A total denuclearizaion of North Korea. We’re starting from scratch and we have to get rid of weapons.”