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Here’s how world leaders are reacting to the historic Trump-Kim summit

Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump gesture
Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met in Singapore on Tuesday.

Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES


US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for the first time on Tuesday in Singapore, where they promised to commit to peaceful relations and work toward “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, though the exact definition of that remains unclear.

The two leaders’ relationship has had massive implications for countries around the world. North Korea flew a missile over northern Japan last August, weeks after Trump threatened Kim with “fire and fury.”

The US and South Korea have for decades held joint military exercises on the North’s border in what Pyongyang has interpreted as rehearsals for war on the peninsula.

World leaders’ reactions to the summit have ranged from triumph to cautious optimism to complete disapproval.

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Scroll down to see all the reactions so far.

Kim met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.

Associated Press

South Korea: A ‘great victory’ and ‘a huge step forward’ by all of us

President Moon Jae-in, who has for months been trying to bring Trump and Kim to the negotiating table, praised the “historic” summit and called it “a great victory achieved by both the United States and the two Koreas.”

Read Moon’s full statement:

Trump told reporters on Tuesday that the US and South Korea would end war games on the Korean Peninsula, though forces from both countries said they had yet to receive that instruction.

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Many South Koreans in Seoul also told Business Insider over the weekend that the summit could be an opportunity for Koreans to “liberate” from the “constant uncertainty” of war and that any inter-Korean meeting was “better than nothing.”

Kim has met Chinese President Xi Jinping twice this year. This photo was taken during the North Korean leader’s first visit, in March.

KCNA/via Reuters

China: We might lift sanctions

China could adjust or even remove its sanctions on North Korea, its foreign ministry said after the summit. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner.

Geng Shuang, a ministry spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday (via Reuters): “The UN Security Council resolutions that have been passed say that if North Korea respects and acts in accordance with the resolutions, then sanction measures can be adjusted, including to pause or remove the relevant sanctions.”

Beijing has long argued that sanctions were “not the goal in themselves.”

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Chinese state media also covered the Trump-Kim summit closely and appeared to approve of the talks; the People’s Daily newspaper tweeted, “Give peace a chance.”

People’s Daily described Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as saying Beijing “welcomes and supports the history-making talks between DPRK and US leaders” and “will continue to play a unique and important role to resolve the peninsula issue.”

Kim and Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister.

Ministry of Communications and Information Singapore/Getty

Singapore: This was ‘a dramatic step forward,’ and we are honored

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote congratulatory letters to both Kim and Trump, describing the joint statement as “a dramatic step forward” and “a crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.”

He added that Singapore was “honoured” to have hosted the summit.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump at Mar-a-Lago in April.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Japan: Thanks, Trump, for bringing up human-rights issues

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after the summit that he was grateful to Trump for bringing up human-rights issues involving Japan and North Korea that have plagued relations between the two countries for decades.

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At least 17 Japanese citizens disappeared at the hands of North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, and the whereabouts of many remain unknown.

Trump said he had “absolutely” raised the issue of the abductions with Kim, though they weren’t mentioned in the joint statement. Trump added that the North Koreans “are going to be working on that.”

Trump and Kim held a private one-on-one meeting during the summit, and there may never be a full record of the conversation.

According to the South China Morning Post, Abe said on Tuesday that he “would like to thank” Trump “for raising the abduction issue” and that he was willing to continue the discussions with North Korea directly.

Abe said: “I’m determined that Japan will have to directly face North Korea and resolve [the abductions] bilaterally.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Reuters

Russia: Cautiously optimistic, but ‘the fact of the meeting itself’ is a good sign

Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency after watching Trump and Kim’s televised comments: “We have not seen any documents. I think they have not been published yet, but the fact of the meeting itself is of course positive.”

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Lavrov met Kim in Pyongyang last month and invited the North Korean leader to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, was cautiously optimistic, telling local media (via Reuters): “Now we can only welcome the fact that an important step forward has been made. Of course, the devil is in the detail, and we have yet to delve into specifics. But the impulse, as far as we understand, has been given.”

He added that Russia was ready to help North Korea on a path toward denuclearization.

Kim and Trump in Singapore.

Evan Vucci/AP

UN: Give Kim ‘patience and support’ to achieve denuclearization

The United Nations urged countries to be patient and support North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

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Stephane Dujarric, a UN spokesman, said on Tuesday (via Reuters): “Implementing today’s and previous agreements reached, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, will require patience and support from the global community.”

The US-North Korea joint statement promised to work toward “complete denuclearization,” stopping short of the US’s goal of complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, or CVID.

Trump told reporters he pressed Kim on CVID but did not get it in writing “because there was no time,” adding: “I’m here one day.”

Boris Johnson, Britain’s foreign secretary, also weighed in on the summit.

Handout / Getty

Britain: Hopeful for a ‘secure and prosperous future’ in North Korea

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the summit as “constructive” and called on Kim to work toward CVID.

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Johnson said:

“We welcome the fact that President Trump and Kim Jong Un have held a constructive summit. This is an important step toward the stability of a region vital to global economic growth and home to thousands of British nationals and important UK interests.

“The reaffirmation of North Korea’s commitment in the Panmunjom Declaration to work toward complete denuclearization of the North Korean Peninsula is a signal that Kim Jong Un may have finally heeded the message that only a change of course can bring a secure and prosperous future to the people of North Korea.

“There is much work still to be done and we hope Kim continues to negotiate in good faith towards complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. The UK will continue to support the United States in its efforts to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Johnson last year described North Korea’s nuclear threat as a “nuclear sword of Damocles … held over the head of a trembling human race.”

Kim and Trump.

Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

EU: ‘Diplomacy is the only way forward’ toward peace

The summit “reaffirms our strong conviction that diplomacy is the only way forward towards lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Federica Mogherini, the EU’s high representative, said on Tuesday. “Pursuing the diplomatic track is often challenging, but it is always rewarding.”

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Mogherini also emphasized the importance of CVID and said the joint statement was a “clear signal that this goal can be achieved.”

She also paid tribute to the “leadership, wisdom, and determination” of Moon that led to the summit.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump, and Kim.

Steffi Loos/Getty; John Moore/Getty; KCNA; Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Canada: Good progress on North Korea, but I’m still focusing on trade

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he supported Trump’s efforts on North Korea but was still focusing on US-Canada trade.

The Trump-Kim summit came after a testy weekend with Canada and other G7 allies. At a press conference in Singapore, the US president also bashed Trudeau’s proposed tariffs on US goods.

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Trudeau said after the Trump-Kim meeting, according to Canada’s CTV News: “We support the continuing efforts by the president on North Korea. We look forward to looking at the details of the agreement.”

He added that he was “going to stay focused on defending jobs for Canadians and supporting Canadian interests.”

Trump taking questions after the summit with Kim.

AP

Australia: ‘Too early to say’ whether Trump’s promises will come true

Julie Bishop, Australia’s foreign-affairs minister, cast doubt on Trump’s pledge to halt military exercises with South Korea.

Trump made the promise at his press conference after the summit without including it on the US-North Korea joint statement. The US and South Korean forces also appeared to have been unaware of Trump’s decision before his announcement.

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“The president spoke about it in answer to a question at a press conference,” Bishop said, according to The Guardian, adding: “It was not part of the declaration, so we have to take the declaration as being the areas of agreement and build on that.”

She said: “The president has raised a whole range of other issues in his press conference, but I think it is too early to say that anything like suspension for suspension has occurred.”

Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, said Trump’s comment about suspending military exercises was “part of the negotiating.”

“Look, President Trump is a deal-maker,” Turnbull said. “He is a businessman who has brought a lifetime’s experience of doing deals, of getting to know people, of being able to persuade them to come to an agreement. And he has chosen to take a very dynamic, very personal approach to this that none of his predecessors have done in the past.”

The North Korean and US delegations at a meeting in Singapore.

Getty

Iran: Trump might ‘cancel the agreement before returning home’

Iran warned North Korea against negotiating with Trump, saying the US president “does not represent the American people.”

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Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, an Iranian government spokesman, said (via Reuters): “We don’t know what type of person the North Korean leader is negotiating with. It is not clear that he would not cancel the agreement before returning home.”

He added: “This man does not represent the American people, and they will surely distance themselves from him at the next elections.”

A spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry also said Iran was “not optimistic” about the summit because Trump “has undermined international agreements and has unilaterally withdrawn from them.”

Trump threw US-Iran relations into disarray last month when he withdrew the US from the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran. Trump also pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord last June.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

US Democrats: Trump’s new friendship with Kim is ‘just embarrassing’

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed the joint statement, saying it contained “vague promises that do not approach” the US’s goal of CVID and was drawn up in Trump’s “haste to reach an agreement.”

Other Democratic lawmakers also expressed dismay about Trump’s seemingly warm relationship with Kim. Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii called it “just embarrassing.”

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