June 12, 2018 6:23 pm
Updated: June 12, 2018 6:29 pm

Analysts divided on whether Trump-Kim’s Singapore meeting was worth it

Professor Paul Evans from the UBC School of Public Policy looks at the historic and contentious agreement between Trump and Kim Jong Un to bring denuclearization to the Korean Peninsula.

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A handshake and a joint statement from two former rivals — is it just all for show or is there something substantial to celebrate?

After months of uncertainty, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Singapore for a historic summit on Monday. It was the first time a sitting American president had met with a North Korean leader.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un both sought legitimacy in Singapore

The pair signed a statement outlining four points, including reaffirming a commitment to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

In return, Trump has promised to stop U.S. military drills in South Korea.

WATCH: Trump-Kim summit: U.S. to end ‘expensive’ war games with South Korea

When on his way home Tuesday afternoon, Trump called the visit “amazing.”

“Great progress was made on the denuclearization of North Korea,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Hostages are back home, will be getting the remains of our great heroes back to their families, no missiles shot, no research happening, sites closing … Got along great with Kim Jong-un who wants to see wonderful things for his country. As I said earlier today: Anyone can make war, but only the most courageous can make peace!”

Was the deal worth it?

Some say it is difficult to know whether or not real progress has been made because of the vague nature of the statement — and some argue the North Koreans didn’t go any further than previous promises.

The Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said it was difficult to assess what had happened at the summit.

“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,” Corker said in a statement.

WATCH: Denuclearization deal between Trump, Kim is vague on details


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READ MORE: Trump-Kim summit: Read North Korea, U.S. joint statement on historic summit that’s short on details

U.S. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer faulted Trump’s agreement with Kim as short on details, saying the United States gave up “substantial leverage.”

Analysts called the military exercises in South Korea “essential” to ensuring that allied forces are ready at a moment’s notice — the 1950-53 Korean War never officially ended, after all.

“Stopping the joint exercises has been a long-term goal for North Korea and China,” two Asia analysts, Victor Cha and Sue Mi Terry, wrote in a summit assessment for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Trump delivered it while getting nothing in return beyond the same generalities that North Korea has been offering since the early 1990s.”

But others say it’s a great step forward for peace.

“All of that points to a new era of the relationship between the United States and North Korea,” Tina Park, Vice President of the NATO Association of Canada, told Global News.

“Yes, the agreement is ambiguous, but that is meant to be because you can only achieve so much with one summit, and I think subsequent meetings between North Korea and the United States … will hash out the details​.”

She also said there are more details in the earlier deal — the one Monday’s document references between the two Koreas — that outline guidelines like establishing a joint office to improve lines of communication between the two Koreas, working on infrastructure projects and resuming things like family reunions.

While it’s true that Kim got a very good PR opportunity out of the summit, “What is key here is that both sides made concessions but they were able to make and be forward in terms of improving their relations,” Park explained.

READ MORE: Dictator’s day out: What Kim Jong Un revealed on his Singapore visit

She also said there were benefits for the U.S. as well.

The POW clause in particular is for the U.S., not for North Korea,” she explained — referencing a point in the document offering repatriation of known POWs and MIAs. 

WATCH: Trump-Kim summit: Trump calls prisoners locked in North Korean camps ‘great winners’

Going forward, both sides need to come up with a timeline for denuclearization and eventually a peace agreement to end the Korean War.

*with files from Reuters and the Associated Press

 

 

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