Early Tuesday morning in Singapore, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un met together in a truly historic fashion to discuss peace and a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.
Ahead of the meeting, Trump said he had prepared for this meeting his whole life and that he was committed to forming a good and beneficial deal. He even said he was willing to walk away from the negotiations if he felt a deal was not agreeable or if the deal was not good enough for his liking. But, Trump said he left the meeting “much further along” than he initially predicted.
As Washington Examiner reports, Trump said he thought this meeting would have been more introductory in initiating a relationship. He subsequently said he expected to get to the point of forming an agreement in another three to four months.
“Today we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind and we are about to sign the historic document,” Kim said during the signing ceremony, per the report. “The world will see a major change.”
At a press conference after the event, Trump expressed that the meeting went better than he expected. “I will say this, we are much further along than I would have thought,” he said. “I told people I thought that this would be a successful meeting if we got along, and developed a relationship and we maybe could have got to this point in three or four months from now.”
Trump also quelled doubts that the North Korean leader was committed to denuclearization. “It will happen. People thought this could never take place. It is now taking place. It is a very great day,” Trump said as Washington Examiner reports. “We signed a very, very comprehensive document and I believe he will live up to that document. In fact, when he lands, which is shortly, I think he will start that process right away.”
According to the report, Trump may have blindsided South Korean President Moon Jae-In when he agreed to cease joint militaristic exercises with his country. Trump wrote the exercises off as “tremendously expensive”:
Trump has promised to keep economic sanctions on the North until they show they are living up to the principles in the signed document, but the U.S. president made a major concession, agreeing to halt the U.S.-South Korea military exercise that the Pentagon has always insisted are vital to maintaining the readiness to defend the South from the North. “We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money. Unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”
Trump also conceded a major point that North Korea has used in propaganda for years, namely that the joint exercises — which the U.S insists are purely defensive — are in fact “provocative,” to which Trump also added “tremendously expensive.”
“The amount of money that we spend on that is incredible,” said Trump, who also faulted South Korea for not paying enough of the cost. “We have to talk to them. We have to talk to many countries about treating us fairly.” It’s not clear if Trump discussed the cancellation of exercise with South Korea president Moon Jae-in, despite Pentagon’s insistence that the scheduling of war games is always a joint decision.
Trump named the cost and the provocation of the military exercises as his reasons for ending them.
“We fly in bombers from Guam. I said when I first started I said where do the bombers come from? Guam. Nearby. I said ‘oh great, nearby, where is nearby?’ Six and a half hours. Six and a half hours. That’s a long time for these big massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practice and then drop bombs all over the place and then go back to Guam,” Trump said.
“I know a lot about airplanes. Very expensive. I didn’t like it,” the U.S. president added. “What I did say is and I think it is provocative. … So under the circumstances, we are negotiating a very comprehensive and complete deal. I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games. So number one, we save money. A lot. And number two, it really is something that I think they very much appreciated.”
Moon’s office followed up the decision with a statement suggesting they were not expecting it.
“At this moment we need to figure out President Trump’s accurate meaning and intention of this comment,” the statement said, per the report. “However, we believe we need to seek various measures how to efficiently move forward the dialogues [as] serious talks are being conducted to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and establish relationships between North Korea and the United States.”