Kim invites Trump to visit Pyongyang

Kim Jong Un invited Donald Trump to visit North Korea during their historic summit and the US President accepted, Pyongyang state media reported Wednesday, calling it the start of a “radical switchover” in the nuclear-armed Cold War foes’ fraught relations.

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The unprecedented encounter in Singapore Tuesday saw the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy shake hands with the third generation scion of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations’ flags.

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.

In its first report on the landmark summit, the official KCNA news agency ran a glowing dispatch on the talks, describing them 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 each asked the other to visit their country.

“The two top leaders gladly accepted each other’s invitation,” KCNA said.

Pyongyang has reason to feel confident after the meeting which was a major coup for an isolated and heavily sanctioned regime that has long craved international legitimacy.

In a blockbusting press conference after the summit, Trump said the US would halt military exercises with Seoul — something long sought by Pyongyang, which claims the drills are a rehearsal for invasion.

The US stations around 30,000 troops in security ally South Korea to protect it from its neighbour, which invaded in 1950 in an attempt to reunify the peninsula by force.

“We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money,” Trump told reporters, adding that “at some point” he wanted to withdraw US troops from the South.

Both Seoul and US military commanders in the South indicated they had no idea the announcement was coming, and analysts expressed immediate concern.

Ending the drills “is in excess of all expert consensus, South Korean requests, and even a close reading of North Korean demands”, said Adam Mount of the Federation of American Scientists.

The KCNA report said Trump committed to ending the drills during his meeting with Kim.

It added that denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula would be dependent on the two sides “refraining from antagonising… each other out of mutual understanding”.

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