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No longer a nuclear threat from North Korea, Trump says after meeting Kim Jong Un

United States President Donald Trump declared on Twitter that there is “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea”, a bold and questionable claim following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that produced few guarantees on how and when Pyongyang would disarm.

world Updated: Jun 13, 2018 23:22 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
nuclear threat,North Korea,Donald Trump
United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore.(Reuters)

President Donald Trump returned to the US on Wednesday, triumphantly proclaiming that the nuclear threat from North Korea had been eliminated because of his historic summit with Kim Jong Un.

“Before taking office, people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea,” he tweeted shortly after returning. “President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!”

Questions continued to be raised about the substance of the talks he held with Kim and the lack of specific details about North Korea’s pledge to denuclearise — no timelines were mentioned in the joint declaration signed by the two leaders in Singapore, nor was there any mention of a verification mechanism. Even fellow Republicans wanted to know more.

While acknowledging the historic nature of the summit, the media highlighted the lack of substance and the fact that North Korea’s pledge was no different or more or less than it has previously before and which it reneged on without an explanation.

Trump sought to blame the media for much of the criticism. “They are fighting hard to downplay the deal with North Korea. 500 days ago they would have ‘begged’ for this deal-looked like war would break out,” he posted.

He had also announced that the US would end “provocative” military exercises with South Korea — he called them “war games”, using language noticeably similar to that used by North Korea. Seoul and Republican hawks were noticeably upset over this move.

However, Trump defended the announcement, tweeting: “We save a fortune by not doing war games, as long as we are negotiating in good faith - which both sides are!”

Trump has been effusive in his praise of Kim, calling him “very talented” and saying that he is a “tough guy” and a “smart” man who “loves his people”. He also expressed admiration for “anybody who takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it”.

Democrats have been predictably critical of the summit, but Republicans too have voiced their concern. “While I am glad the president and Kim Jong Un were able to meet, it is difficult to determine what of concrete nature has occurred,” said Bob Corker, the Republican heading the senate foreign relations committee.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham, while congratulating Trump for the “historic opportunity”, pointed out on CBS news channel that the North Koreans “have promised to give up their nuclear weapons” in the past.

Republicans have also cautioned Trump against getting carried away in his praise of Kim. “I think it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the fact that Kim Jong Un is a butcher and he is a butcher of his own people,” Senator John Kennedy told CNN.