It’s far from a peace treaty or a comprehensive deal to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But it’s still progress.
The world just witnessed history in the making: A little before 2:00 pm local time in Singapore, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement committing to work together to “build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.”
Sitting side-by-side at a table flanked by alternating US and North Korean flags, Trump and Kim each signed copies of what Trump described as a “very important” and “pretty comprehensive document,” though he declined to elaborate on the details of the agreement at the time.
“We had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind and sign a historic document,” Kim told reporters at the signing ceremony, speaking through a translator. “The world will see a major change.”
The signing ceremony, which took place at the Capella hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa island, was the dramatic climax of a nearly five-hour-long summit between the two leaders and their top aides.
Shortly after the ceremony, the text of the document was released to journalists covering the summit. According to reporters who saw the document, the agreement consists of four major points:
- The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity. [DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the formal name of North Korea.]
- The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
- Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
- The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
It’s far from a peace treaty or a comprehensive agreement to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, to be sure. Nor does it even clarify what each side means by “denuclearization.” As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp has written, that word means very different things to the US and North Korea.
But it’s still progress.
Less than a year ago, Trump was threatening to rain down “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea and Kim was calling Trump a “mentally deranged US dotard” and “carefully examining” plans for a missile strike on US military bases in Guam.
But after a day spent talking, laughing, eating, and strolling leisurely with one another, the two men have “developed a very special bond,” according to Trump.
It’s a stunning turn of events. And while it’s just the beginning of what will likely be a long and complicated negotiating process — one that could break down at any time — it’s certainly a positive start.
“We’ll be meeting again a great many times,” Trump said after signing the document. Asked if he plans to invite Kim to the White House, Trump responded, “Absolutely I will.”