Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un signed what the US president described as a “very important” document following the conclusion of their historic summit in Singapore. “The letter that we are signing is very comprehensive, and I think both sides will be very impressed with the results,” Mr Trump said as he sat alongside the North Korean leader.

Mr Kim said the two countries would “leave the past behind” in signing the agreement. “The world will see the major change,” he added. “I would like to express gratitude to President Trump for making this meeting happen.” Mr Trump did not say what the agreement entailed. But earlier he hailed his meeting with Mr Kim as “really fantastic” as the two men concluded the first summit between a US president and North Korean leader, a historic event in Singapore that came after decades of hostility. “A lot of progress, really very positive . . . better than anybody could have expected,” Mr Trump said as he stood beside Mr Kim after their meetings. “Top of the line. Really good.” He later said that “we’re going to take care of a very big and very dangerous problem for the world”.

 

The landmark summit marked the first stage in a process that the US, Japan, China and South Korea hope will lead to denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula. Mr Trump was scheduled to hold a press conference at 4pm local time to discuss the negotiations. As the two men walked through the Capello Hotel where the summit was held, Mr Kim said to Mr Trump that “many people in the world will think of this as a . . . form of fantasy . . . from a science fiction movie.” Mr Trump added that the two men would head to a “signing” ceremony without providing any details. Following a one-on-one meeting of about 40 minutes, Mr Trump and Mr Kim met with their broader delegations before holding a working lunch. The US delegation consisted of Mike Pompeo, secretary of state, John Bolton, national security adviser, and John Kelly, chief of staff.

 

The North Korean side included Mr Kim’s confidant Kim Yong Chol, who recently met Mr Trump in the White House. At the opening of the summit, Mr Kim said there would be “challenges ahead but we will work with [President] Trump”. He said: “We overcame all kinds of scepticism and speculations about this summit and I believe that this is good for the peace.” The summit, which comes 17 months after Mr Trump took office, follows a turbulent period that saw the two nations at one point appear to edge dangerously close to war. The leaders had fired insults at each other last summer with Mr Trump calling Mr Kim a “madman” and the North Korean leader responding by calling Mr Trump a “dotard”.

 

The Singapore summit is the product of intense diplomacy that began after Mr Kim signalled earlier this year that he wanted to meet Mr Trump. The opening came as the US continued to ratchet up a campaign aimed at squeezing North Korea economically in a bid to bring Mr Kim to the negotiating table. Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, on Tuesday he hoped that the summit would bring “complete denuclearisation and peace, and open a new era for the South, the North and the US.”

 

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Trump hit out at critics of his move to meet Mr Kim — a summit that only two weeks ago appeared to be in jeopardy because of a bout of tough rhetoric from both sides. “The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the US, say the haters & losers. We have our hostages, testing, research and all missle [sic] launches have stoped [sic], and these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!” Mr Trump said before leaving his downtown hotel for the Capella.

The summit comes on the heels of the G7 in Canada where the US ended up badly isolated from its traditional allies over rising trade tensions that threaten to seriously fracture the decades-old group of industrialised countries. In contrast to his sharp criticism of Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, Mr Trump has over the past few weeks praised Mr Kim, whom he frequently referred to as “rocket man” last year. Security was tight across Singapore — and particularly near the Capella — as the two leaders prepared to arrive for the summit. The White House said Mr Trump would hold a press conference at 4pm local time in Singapore, where several thousand journalists have poured into the city state to cover the historic event.

The US said little about the negotiations leading up to the summit. But it has stressed that North Korea would remain under sanctions until it undertook the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula. In return, it has offered to provide security guarantees, which Pyongyang desperately wants. “We are prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique than . . .

 

America has been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate,” said Mr Pompeo, who refused to say whether the guarantees would include removing the more than 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea. While Trump administration officials argue that the US president is pursuing a bold approach because of the failures of his predecessors, some North Korea experts worry that he will be played by Mr Kim and his experienced nuclear negotiators — some of whom have been dealing with the US for more than two decades. “Donald Trump is narrowly focused on his chess game with Kim, but seems to be playing checkers, offering a peace declaration in exchange for hollow repeats of the North’s professed commitment to denuclearisation,” said Michael Green, a former top Asia official in the Bush administration. “Meanwhile, China is poised to win on a second chess board where the president’s moves could unsettle US alliances.”

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