The much-anticipated summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump was successfully held in Singapore yesterday with a one-on-one meeting and the signing of a historic document, which Mr Trump described it as “very important document, pretty comprehensive document”.
“We’ve had a really great time together, a great relationship,” said Mr Trump. “We have developed a special bond,” he added. The meeting was far better than anybody ever predicted, he emphasised.
“Today we had a very historic meeting, overcoming our past history and embarking on a new beginning. We’re about to sign a historic agreement, and the world will see a major change. I’d like to express my gratitude to Mr Trump to make this happen,” said Mr Kim.
In response to a question on whether the two leaders will meet again, Mr Trump said: “We’ll meet again, we’ll meet many times.” He said the two men have learnt a lot about each other after the first handshake earlier in the day.
“He’s a very talented man, I also learnt that he loves his country very much,” Mr Trump told reporters after the signing. He also described Mr Kim as a “very worthy, very smart negotiator”.
The political rhetoric and body language have been overall positive and the political stage was well planned and utilised by both sides. The political message is clear that the summit was a breakthrough and a critical step towards future rounds of negotiation.
Cambodia and the international community welcome the positive and successful outcomes of the summit and wish to see more concrete steps towards a comprehensive and complete solution on the Korean peninsula.
There are three main takeaways from the meeting.
Firstly, political and strategic trust has been built after almost seven decades of hostile relationship. It’s now an opportune moment for both sides to sit down and talk. They have shown a certain degree of sincerity, common interest, and political will to find mutually agreeable solutions.
The US’s main interest is to seek a complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula. North Korea’s core interests are regime stability, the lifting of sanctions, and economic development.
Secondly, by signing the document, both sides are bound to work together to overcome huge challenges and difficulties ahead – it is commonly said the devils are in the details. North Korea will not just abandon its nuclear programme that Pyongyang has invested in for decades. Hence North Korea needs security guarantees and political sincerity from the US.
Thirdly, the summit paved the way for future concrete deals and actions. It will be a complicated and long process of bilateral negotiation. A shuttle diplomacy is needed and both sides must maintain the momentum and further articulate their interests and intentions.
The summit also has vital regional implications for Asean.
Firstly, a peaceful and stable Korean peninsula is critical to regional peace in East Asia and a wider region. Asean, in particular, will greatly benefit from a stable and prosperous Korean peninsula, which is one of the regional security hotspots.
Secondly, the North Korea issue provides opportunity for major powers, especially China and the US, to work together in order to create a favourable environment for dialogues and find a comprehensive framework for settlement of the differences. China-US power rivalry, including the ongoing trade spat, is threatening regional peace and stability and Southeast Asian countries are facing a security dilemma in dealing with both major powers. Hence the improvement of China-US relations will benefit Asean.
Thirdly, the potential reforms and opening up of North Korea will economically benefit the region’s economy. Asean, no doubt, will reap the economic benefits from a successful and prosperous North Korea. Cambodia, an old and reliable friend of North Korea, will do its best to cement Asean-North Korea ties and can be a gateway for North Korea to reach out to the Mekong region, a new growth center of Asia.