‘Pyongyang-bound’ Trump says world dodged ‘nuclear catastrophe’

SEOUL (AFP) – Donald Trump accepted an invitation from Kim Jong-un to visit North Korea during their historic summit, Pyongyang state media reported yesterday, as the US President said the world had jumped back from the brink of “nuclear catastrophe”.

Critics have said the unprecedented encounter in Singapore was more style than substance, producing a document short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang’s atomic weapons.

But in a characteristically bullish tweet, Trump said the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two Cold War foes meant “the World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!

“No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families. Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!”

In the joint statement following Tuesday’s talks, Kim agreed to the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula” – a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that stopped short of long-standing US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a “verifiable” and “irreversible” way.

A conductor reads the latest edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showing images of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un meeting with US president Donald Trump during their summit in Singapore, at a newsstand on a subway platform of the Pyongyang metro yesterday. Trump accepted an invitation from Kim to visit North Korea during their historic summit, Pyongyang state media reported yesterday. – AFP

The official KCNA news agency ran a glowing dispatch, describing the summit as an “epoch-making meeting” that would help foster “a radical switchover in the most hostile (North Korea)-US relations”.

The report said the two men “gladly accepted” mutual invitations to visit each other’s countries.

KCNA also asserted Trump had “expressed his intention” to lift sanctions against the North – something the US President had told a blockbuster press conference would happen “when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor”.

“The sanctions right now remain,” he added.

With the headline: ‘Meeting of the century opens new history in DPRK-US relations’, the North’s ruling Workers Party official daily Rodong Sinmun splashed no fewer than 33 pictures across four of its usual six pages. One of the pictures showed a smiling Kim shaking hands with Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has previously advocated military action against the North.

In Pyongyang, commuters crowded round the spread of images, for most of them the first they had seen of the summit.

U Sung Tak, 79, said the future was looking “bright” because Kim was “leading the world’s political trend on the Korean peninsula, steering the wheel of history”.

Ordinary North Koreans consistently voice unequivocal support for the leadership and its policies when speaking to foreign media.