S. Korea hails Trump-Kim summit as ‘talks of the century’

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in looks at a TV broadcasting a news report on summit between the US and North Korea during a cabinet meeting at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul on Tuesday. — Reuters

SEOUL — South Koreans erupted in applause on Tuesday as Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un met for what local media billed as the “talks of the century”.

As the historic first meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader began in Singapore, images of Trump and Kim exchanging handshakes and warm words drew jubilant reactions in Seoul and hopes for a new beginning with Pyongyang.

“We hope the summit will be a success and bring us a complete denuclearization, peace and a new era” in relations between the two Koreas and the United States, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.

Moon, whose earlier meetings with Kim had paved the way for the Singapore summit, smiled and applauded alongside his Cabinet ministers as they watched live-streamed scenes from the summit at the presidential Blue House.

He has spent “a sleepless night” with excitement ahead of the meeting, his office said.

The English language Korea Times welcomed the meeting as a step towards ending tensions on the Korean peninsula, which has been divided between the communist North and democratic South for nearly 70 years.

Since the 1950-53 Korean War, South Korea has grown into one of the most prosperous countries in Asia, while the isolationist North has suffered a stagnant economy and alarmed its neighbors with its increasingly sophisticated nuclear weapons program.

“The two leaders are certainly under great pressure to make the talks of the century a success,” the editorial said.

“We hope today’s summit will make a breakthrough to open a new era of peace and prosperity.”

China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that China will continue to continue to dedicate itself to establishing a peace mechanism for the Korean peninsula.

China highly praises the political resolve of the leaders of North Korea and the United States, the ministry said in a statement on its website, following Trump and Kim summit in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow has a positive assessment of the deal between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but “the devil is in the detail”, said TASS news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.

“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,” Ryabkov said.

Russia is ready to assist in implementing the deal — to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — and hopes settling the nuclear crisis will unblock normal economic cooperation, RIA news agency quoted Ryabkov as saying.

He also said Moscow hoped that six-party talks — a negotiation format involving the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and China - will at some point become relevant again, according to TASS.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday welcomed a document signed by North Korea’s leader at an unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump as a “first step” towards denuclearization.

Speaking briefly hours after Kim and Trump held historic talks in Singapore, Abe also said he was pleased that the US leader had raised the emotive issue of Japanese abducted by Pyongyang.

“Through this US-North Korea summit, Chairman Kim Jong Un’s intent for complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was confirmed in writing,” Abe said.

“I support this as a first step to the comprehensive resolution of issues concerning North Korea.”

Kim and Trump signed a document after their talks in which the North Korean leader reaffirmed his commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”, without giving further details. — Agencies


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