Much was made in the media leading put to the recent summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Observers speculated as to how events surrounding the summit would unravel and what, if any, concrete terms and policy changes would arise from the meeting.
Now that the historic meeting is over, it’s time to unpack the results of the summit and its implications for the region and beyond. Here are five critical results from the Trump-Kim summit and how it may shape the future geopolitical landscape.
1. President Trump made a grand gesture
Although critics of the summit believe that a detailed deal failed to emerge from the meeting in Singapore as Trump promised, the president did manifest a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on a stage most observers doubted would ever occur. President Trump continued to defy doubters and reimagined the limits of U.S. foreign policy and how America will shape geopolitics during his term. Employing his skills at showmanship and media savvy, President Trump created an event that captured the attention of the world.
2. Kim Jong Un becomes legitimized on the world stage
Prior to meeting with President Trump, previous American presidents had made it a policy to not meet with North Korean leadership. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all had refused to meet with Kim Jong Un and his now-deceased father Kim Jong Il because of the human rights record and nuclear proliferation programs in North Korea. Yet, President Trump elected to brake with precedent and met Kim Jong Un in Singapore to shake up how business with North Korea and the world is done.
3. Trump promises ending war games with South Korea
In the aftermath of the summit, President Trump surprised the world by announcing that war games with long-time American ally South Korea will cease in the region. This came as an unexpected result of the meeting and raised concerns about the relationship between the United States and South Korea, given that reportedly the South Korean government had no prior knowledge of the change in advance. To some analysts, the move seems reckless and lacking in diplomatic tact. However, given the style of President Trump, it appears that the world should be prepared for more surprises.
4. Few details were given about the future
Despite all of the media attention paid to the summit, few concrete details emerged from the meeting between the two leaders. In fact, outside of the aforementioned move to cease American war games with South Korea, only general declarations of peace principles were made with a variety of photo ops.
The full text of the agreement Trump and Kim signed is here. Although the document states that North Korea “commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” no concrete benchmarks were given.
5. Denuclearization remains unresolved for the time being
For U.S. foreign policy in the past, the point of North Korea ending its nuclear proliferation operations has been paramount. However, in the aftermath of the summit it seems as though little has been changed regarding this. Some observers believe that Trump’s announcement to end war games with South Korea serves as a gesture to spur denuclearization along. Nevertheless, nothing concrete has emerged. As a result, U.S. sanctions against North Korea remain in place for the time being.
Although uncertainty remains surrounding the implications of the historic meeting between
President Trump and Kim Jong Un in Singapore, it offers the promos of potential change in the future. In time, the goodwill of the summit may carry through to reduce the risk of nuclear threats. In the meantime, sanctions against North Korea remain in place until denuclearization has been achieved.