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World leaders welcome Trump-Kim agreement; China to benefit from outcome

With US President Donald Trump setting the course for normalising ties with North Korea and even saying that war games with South Korea would end, China appeared to be a beneficiary from Tuesday's summit, while Japan welcomed the outcome.


WITH US President Donald Trump setting the course for normalising ties with North Korea and even saying that war games with South Korea would end, China appeared to be a beneficiary from Tuesday's summit, while Japan welcomed the outcome.

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged on Tuesday to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, and signed a "comprehensive" document at a landmark summit in Singapore. In turn, Washington committed to provide security guarantees for North Korea, though the joint statement was light on specifics.

China, North Korea's most important economic and diplomatic supporter despite its anger at Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests, wasted little time with a reminder that UN sanctions could be adjusted.

"The UN Security Council resolutions that have been passed say that if North Korea respects and acts in accordance with the resolutions, then sanction measures can be adjusted, including to pause or remove the relevant sanctions," a Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said at a daily news briefing.

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The Global Times, an influential Chinese state-run newspaper, said in an editorial that the time was right to consider "an appropriate reduction of the sanctions"."This joint declaration is in line with the three principles of 'no chaos, no war, and peaceful settlement' proposed by the Chinese government," said Liang Yabin, an associate professor at Beijing's Central Party School, which trains rising officials.

Resolving tensions on the Korean peninsula has obvious benefits for China, especially in bolstering the development of its rust belt and landlocked north-east.

China was not a direct party to the summit but Mr Kim met President Xi Jinping twice in the run-up, and even borrowed an Air China 747 to get to Singapore.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters: "There is great meaning in Chairman Kim's clearly confirming to President Trump the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula."

Mr Abe also said that resolving the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea would require the strong support of the United States.

Yoji Koda, a retired admiral who commanded the Japanese naval fleet, and a fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, said that the statement contained nothing new or concrete.

"One of the key points that Trump and his advisers made was that the US will not repeat the mistakes of previous deals," he said. "From reading this document, I don't think the US will be successful."

South Korea's presidential office said that it needs to seek clarity on Mr Trump's intentions after he said that Washington will stop joint military exercises. South Korea's President Moon Jae In, who has been front and centre in efforts to engage the North and Mr Kim himself, pledged complete cooperation.

"My administration will spare no effort in cooperating with the United States, North Korea and the international community to ensure that the agreement can be implemented in its entirety," he said in a statement.

Further afield, Britain welcomed North Korea's commitment to denuclearisation, saying that it is a signal that its leader has finally heeded the message after a meeting with President Trump, a statement from foreign minister Boris Johnson said.

Reading a statement from Mr Johnson, British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters: "We welcome that President Trump and Kim Jong Un have held a constructive summit, this is an important step towards the stability of a region vital to global economic growth." He added: "There is much work to be done, and we hope that Kim continues to negotiate in good faith towards complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation."

The European Union (EU) also praised the summit between the two leaders as a "crucial and necessary step", indicating that denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula could be achieved. "This summit was a crucial and necessary step to build upon the positive developments achieved in inter-Korean relations and on the peninsula so far," the EU's diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry also praised Mr Trump's move to end war games with South Korea, saying that it was necessary to stop provocative actions to ease tensions on the peninsula.

Russian news agency RIA Novosti said on Tuesday that Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hailed the summit as a "positive" step. "We have not yet seen the documents (signed at the summit). I don't think they have been published. But the mere fact that this meeting took place is of course positive," the agency quoted Mr Lavrov as saying.

In the US, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he supports the deal but that US and its allies must be prepared to restore "maximum pressure" policy if North Korea does not adhere to the agreement

Separately, Iran warned Mr Kim on Tuesday against trusting Mr Trump, saying that he could cancel their denuclearisation agreement within hours.

Teheran cited its own experience in offering the advice to Mr Kim a month after Washington withdrew from a similar deal with Iran. "We don't know what type of person the North Korean leader is negotiating with. It is not clear that he would not cancel the agreement before returning home," Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Bagher Nobakht was quoted as saying by IRNA new agency. REUTERS, AFP


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