Tuesday 12 June 2018 – Trump-Kim summit – MORE RELATED VIDEOS


Tuesday 12 June 2018 – Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un sign a joint deal after their summit in Singapore


The summit that many thought would never happen has finally become a reality as President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un met at the Capella Hotel on the Sentosa island in Singapore.  The historic first-ever meeting of a US president and a leader of North Korea has been a question of debate and doubt for several months and comes only a few months after the two leaders were exchanging insults and threats of nuclear war with each other.  The meeting, despite Mr Trump’s verbal and Twitter attacks on the Korean leader, has come about because of the US President’s decision last year to break with a long-standing stance towards North Korea and offer to talk directly with its leader.  This was a major concession and a face-to-face meeting with a US President is what every North Korean leader has desired.  Many doubted, including myself, that Mr Trump would have the capacity to keep it together long enough first to see the meeting happen and second to get through it without a major blunder.  This seemed to be borne out in May when the President abruptly cancelled the meeting.  However, the summit was quickly back on the schedule, and the President changed his mind. I nevertheless still doubted that it would happen and, if it did, that it would be a success.  Thankfully I was wrong and it appears that the summit in Singapore has produced a positive deal between the two countries and as I was writing in my blog on Sunday, it is offering us a very positive way forward to continue negotiation and more friendly relations that ultimately could lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and even the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim met privately with just their translators for about 40 minutes before moving to talks that included aids, followed by lunch with their aides.  The talks centred on the issue of denuclearisation and how to reduce tensions between the two states.  They came to an agreement which both men signed which promises to work towards new relations, with the US President later  promising at a news conference to suspend its joint military exercises with South Korea, which Mr Trump described as “provocative” to the North.  North Korea promised to work towards denuclearisation and agreed, according to Mr Trump at his news conference, that this should be verifiable and that Mr Kim “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation” – a key demand by the Americans.  Mr Trump also said that Kim Jong-un also agreed to destroy a missile testing site.  The President said that economic sanctions will continue until denuclearisation is achieved – or possibly until it is underway, saying “we haven’t given up anything.”   The full joint statement reads:

Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea at the Singapore Summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new US-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new US-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the US-DPRK summit – the first in history – was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in the joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the US-DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new US-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and the security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.

Mr Trump said the talks were “better than anybody could imagine” but most people didn’t have very high expectations for them.  As predicted by many the talks produced little in substance and more on vague promises and reassurances to work towards “peace and prosperity” and the wording of the agreement needs to be read with scrutiny. Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan University, said the text is “even thinner than most sceptics anticipated.”  Nevertheless, the talks have been welcomed by most.  China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, for instance told reporters that the fact that the two leaders “can sit together and have equal talks has important and positive meaning, and is creating a new history.” China, of course, will play a major role in any future relations with North Korea.  It already accounts for 90% of the North’s trade and will be in a key place to offer relief to the country.  There are already suggestions that the Chinese will ease sanctions against North Korea following the summit.


After the summit concluded, Mr Kim headed for the airport while Mr Trump gave a news conference, where he was asked by reporters if he had brought up the issue of human rights with Mr Kim.  Mr Trump said he had but then praised the leader in a somewhat sycophantic manner: “Well; he is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough. I don’t say he was nice.”  This statement suggests that for now the Americans are going to sidetrack the issue of human rights abuses in North Korea and focus on denuclearisation.  This, combined with suspending military exercises with the South, looking towards withdrawing US troops from the peninsula, and the unspecified “security guarantees” for the North suggests that Mr Kim has done very well out of this summit.  The UK’s former ambassador to North Korea, John Everard, echoed this suggesting that Mr Kim would see the summit as a “great triumph.”  Mr Everard said:

“He will claim that he, his genius, his diplomatic nous have brought the president of the United States to the negotiating table. He will say, rightly enough, that he has been the first member of the dynasty to actually sit with a US president and be treated as an equal. This guy is on a roll.

“Kim Jong-un has scored a major major coup in this summit. All that he needed from it was the photo images, to be seen to be treated as an equal by the President of the United States. The rest was secondary.

“The declaration suggests he didn’t get that much out of the summit. It was only later, during President Trump’s press conference that we learned almost casually that the US is now going to suspend the joint military exercises with South Korea, to which the North Koreans have so long objected. So another big win by Kim Jong-un.”

Mr Everard argued that the agreement was “rather flimsy” and said that “all we have is President Trump’s word that Kim Jong-un is serious and a rather flimsy joint statement signed by the two people that doesn’t really tell us anything very much.”  He continued by pointing out that the key point over denuclearisation had already been made:

“Not only was it announced at the inter-Korean summit. It has been standard North Korean doctrine for many years. But notice the phrasing, it talks about ‘denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula’ not just of denuclearisation just of North Korea. In the North Korean mind that means that not just North Korea surrenders its nuclear weapons, but also that the possibility of a nuclear strike against North Korea by other countries, notably the United States, is also removed. So the United States will have to take some fairly stringent measures to limit its ability to hit North Korea. I’m not sure just how far Donald Trumphas realised what he has signed.”

Mr Kim’s main goal has always been the survival of his regime and it seems that Mr Trump is prepared to accept Mr Kim’s despotic rule in return for getting rid of his nuclear weapons.  What, if anything, will the US do to address the wider issues in North Korea if denuclearisation is achieved and when we could see the withdrawal of US troops and the easing or lifting of economic sanctions?  It seems to me that the suffering people of North Korea will be sacrificed at the altar of ending the threat of a nuclear North Korea. 

We can only hope that the lifting of sanctions, combined with the end of its nuclear weapons programme, will free resources for the benefit of the people of North Korea.  This would in an ideal situation suggest that the people would benefit, but we are dealing with a totalitarian regime who have shown no interest in the past for easing the suffering of its people.  The development of nuclear weapons, for instance, devastated the North’s economy and led to mass starvation and suffering by its people.  Will Mr Kim live up to his claims that he wants to focus on the economy?  Will his generals and his opponents allow him to take this route if he actually goes in that direction?  Mr Kim has been ruthless in suppressing and eradicating any potential threats to his rule internally, and his paranoia over threats to his rule may suppress any desire he has to reform the economy.


Mr Trump’s commitment to US-South Korea joint military drills seems to have comes as a surprise to the South.    A spokesman for the Seoul government said: “In coordination with our ROK [Republic of Korea] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance,” while the South’s military released a statement which said: “Regarding President Trump’s comment regarding ending of the combined military drills. We need to find out the exact meaning or intention behind his comments at this point.”  These statements would suggest that Donald Trump has, as he often done, made decisions on the spur of the moment without consulting those concerned.  The ending of the drills also has opposition within the Trump administration.  James Mattis, the US defence secretary, for example believes that ending them would undermine the alliance between the South and the US and would weaken its deterrent effect on the North.

Sources & Further Reading:

Sunday 10 June 2018 – Sir Paul McCartney in Liverpool recording Carpool Karaoke with James Corden

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Former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney made a surprise visit to his home city yesterday to record with James Corden an episode of Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, a feature of his US TV program The Late Late Show.  In the show, the British late night TV host drives around in a car with a celebrity while singing karaoke.  Musicians and singers are the most likely to appear on the show and they often sing their own songs with Corden, in between which he interviews them.  James Corden has previously said that Paul McCartney would be the dream guest on his Carpool Karaoke, so it seems that he has finally got his wish.

The pair were seen walking around the Pier Head at the waterfront, followed around by surprised fans and tourists.  Many of these were there to photograph the statue of The Beatles, which is based on a famous photograph of the group walking in Liverpool in the early 1960s.  Naturally, Corden and McCartney took a selfie with the statue (above).  They were also seen around Allerton Road and at the Penny Lane junction with the road – which features many of the locations mentioned in McCartney’s hit Penny Lane.  The two photos below show him and Corden next to the shelter in the middle of the roundabout, now an empty bistro, and the two men on Church Road outside Tony Slavin barbers which is also mentioned in the song.  The two men were also filmed visiting Paul’s childhood home on Forthlin Road. It should be noted, for those who don’t realise it, but Penny Lane itself is across the other side of Allerton Road from Church Road and the locations mentioned in the song are not actually on Penny Lane itself.  Penny Lane is the name used by Liverpudlians for the junction of Allerton Road, Church Road and Penny Lane and is known to locals as a bus interchange.  At the time of Paul McCartney’s youth in Liverpool, he, John Lennon and George Harrison would get buses from here to go into the city centre.


Photos from the Twitter user Jacob_1878 and by Tony Navarro.

DfRJNjIVMAAo015Following his trip around the Penny Lane area with James Corden, Sir Paul McCartney visited the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, also known as the  Philharmonic Pub, on Hope Street to perform a  secret gig to just 50 people. The photo to the right shows McCartney in the Phil and was taken from the Twitter account beatlesnumber9.  Those who weren’t fortunate enough to see the gig itself gathered outside the pub hoping to catch a glimpse of the former Beatle (below).  McCartney is said to have performed two new songs, which has increased the existing rumours that a new album is forthcoming.  Some fans took to Twitter to share their pleasure and surprise at seeing Macca perform.  Sean Kennedy wrote: “I have just seen Macca live. I’m on Carpool Karaoke. My life is complete. Thank you.”  Mike at Mike__dps wrote: “My head has fallen off. Just seen Paul McCartney play a gig to 50 people in the Philharmonic pub in Liverpool. Absolutely made my life. Thank you for the music Paul . The Beatles X X X.” 


The Philharmonic Pub (below left) is located on Hope Street – a road that joins the city’s two cathedrals – and is across the road from the Philharmonic Hall (below centre).  Members of The Beatles drank in the pub in their days in Liverpool.  It is one of Liverpool’s oldest and most ornate public houses and has long been associated with musicians from the city and from the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.  The pub is also famous for its listed men’s toilets (below right).

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Sources & Further Reading:

Sunday 10 June 2018 – Kim Jong-un arrives in Singapore ahead of his summit with Donald Trump


The on-off summit between US president Donald Trump and  Korean leader Kim Jong-un is, at the moment, on course to take place.  In anticipation of Tuesday’s meeting in Singapore, Kim Jong-un has arrived in the country (above) to prepare and wait for the US president, who for the last few days has been having a rough time at the G7 summit in Canada.  Mr Trump is scheduled to arrive in Singapore later today for what will be the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president.  Before leaving Canada, Mr Trump said that the summit would be a “one-time shot” for peace and said that he and Mr Kim were “in unknown territory in the truest sense.”


Photo: Kim Jong-un is greeted by Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan

Although the summit now seems to be a certainty after months of doubts about whether it would go ahead, the summit has no guarantee that it will be successful.  The United States has the goal of ensuring that North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons, while the North presently believes that possession of nuclear weapons is a guarantee of the survival of the Kim regime.  Furthermore, the North undoubtedly has the desire to see the removal of US troops from South Korea, which in the present climate is going to be difficult for the Americans to agree to.  The chances of any progress at the summit is also hampered by the personality of Mr Trump, who the other day said that he would know if the summit would be a success or not in the first minute of his meeting with Mr Kim.  This seems to suggest that Mr Trump believes he has the ability to sum up all eventualities and possibilities within a minute!  Such arrogance isn’t what is required at such a high-level diplomatic venture.  You cannot expect to achieve anything without talking, without compromise and negotiation.  Mr Trump’s comment brings into question whether he has the temperament and skills required to negotiate at the summit.  Mr Trump is clearly trying to show that he is the big deal maker, but his ego and megalomania is in reality an obstacle to the diplomacy that is required in Singapore (below).


It seems, however, that Mr Trump is going to the Singapore summit with the view that his meeting with Mr Kim is a prelude to progress, a sort of “get-to-know situation” as the President has said.  This route may be more productive.  If Mr Trump can simply get through the summit with Mr Kim without a major blunder, then it could be left to experienced diplomats and experts to actually negotiate the details of any deal on the ultimate goal of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.  Both sides appear to want this to happen, but it seems a long way off despite the positive act of this summit.  The North has achieved its goal of building a nuclear arsenal capable to striking the United States mainland and now . wants to focus on its economy which is in turmoil after decades of sanctions and mismanagement.  The US wants them to get rid of their nuclear weapons programme in return, no doubt, for easing or lifting of sanctions.  The North, however, regards the possession of nuclear weapons as the reason this summit is happening and regard them as essential to the survival of the Kim dynasty.  It will be difficult for the Americans to persuade them to surrender them after they’ve spent decades trying to develop them.  Furthermore, the North will probably want the Americans to withdraw their troops from South Korea, which may be difficult for the Americans to agree to.

One thing that may be a positive sign of progress at the summit is a formal ending of the Korean War.  Despite a truce in 1953 which brought the three-year war to an end, no armistice was signed which technically means that the two Koreas are still at war some 65 years after the conflict ended.  Signing a formal declaration of peace would go a long way to easing tensions.  However, as Mr Trump has acknowledged, this would be the “easy part” and that it is no guarantee of progress on more vital areas.  Signing a formal ending to the Korean War is, in my opinion, the best we can realistically expect from this short summit.  If that happens and Mr Trump and Mr Kim come away from Singapore without either having lost the plot or made a diplomatic blunder then the summit will have been a success. As Mr Trump suggests, Tuesday’s summit should perhaps be regarded as the opening gambit in what could be a long process of progress towards the ultimate goal of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Sources & Further Reading