U.S. President Donald Trump has asserted that Pyongyang no longer poses a nuclear threat to the world following his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
'Just landed -- a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,' Trump tweeted on June 13, a day after the meeting in Singapore. 'There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!'
Trump and Kim signed a joint statement in which the North Korean leader vowed to 'work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,' but no timetable was announced and there was no concrete commitment from Pyongyang on dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
Nevertheless, Trump wrote in a separate tweet that people can 'sleep well' following the landmark meeting, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a leader of isolated and tightly controlled North Korea.
Trump wrote that before he took office 'people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President [Barack] Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer -- sleep well tonight!
Years of sanctions and on-and-off talks between North Korea and five nations including the United States and Russia have failed to halt Pyongyang's nuclear and missile activities.
Tensions between the United States and North Korea escalated last year after Pyongyang tested several ballistic missiles and performed a nuclear test, while Kim and Trump traded threats and insults.
After the June 12 summit, Trump told a news conference he would also halt what he called 'very provocative' and expensive military exercises the United States stages regularly with South Korea.
The statement caused surprise in South Korea and neighboring Japan. South Korea's presidential office was quoted by the country's Yonhap news agency on June 13 as saying that joint U.S.-South Korea military drills may be halted to boost talks on North Korea's denuclearization.
The United States stations some 28,500 troops in South Korea, which remains in a technical state of war with Pyongyang after the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Seoul ahead of meetings with South Korean and Japanese officials. Pompeo is expected to meet privately with General Vincent Brooks, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, and will meet with President Moon Jae-in on June 14 to discuss the summit.
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Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono is also heading to Seoul and will meet with Pompeo and his South Korean counterpart.
Pompeo, who played an instrumental role in arranging the Trump-Kim summit, then plans to fly to Beijing to update the Chinese government on the talks.
Meanwhile, North Korea on June 13 said Trump has agreed to a 'step-by-step' denuclearization process, with each country taking simultaneous, reciprocal steps to ease tensions and establish peace between the longtime enemies.
The statement by the official Korean Central News Agency was the North's first official reaction after the summit.
It appeared to tie Pyongyang's steps to lay down nuclear weapons to steps by the United States to halt 'irritating and hostile military actions,' such as joint military drills with South Korea that have repeatedly antagonized North Korea.
The North Korean statement said Kim also invited Trump to visit North Korea, and the president accepted, while it said Kim also accepted an invitation from Trump to visit Washington.
The news agency quoted Kim as saying that if the United States takes 'genuine measures for building trust,' North Korea would continue to take 'additional goodwill measures of next stage commensurate with them.'
'In order to achieve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and realize its denuclearization, the two countries should commit themselves to refraining from antagonizing...each other,' it quoted Kim as saying.
The change in rhetoric coming out of the summit was striking only a year after Trump had dubbed Kim 'Little Rocket Man' and Kim called Trump 'mentally deranged' as they two leaders for months hurled threats of nuclear annihilation at each other.
Trump has said he forged a 'special bond' with Kim during their 45-minute meeting in Singapore, while North Korea said Kim and Trump 'deepened friendly feelings' and plan to further improve relations in future visits together.
Russia welcomed the summit, saying that Moscow has long called for direct dialogue to resolve the standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs.
'Just the fact that such a meeting took place and direct first-hand dialogue was started can only be welcomed,' Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists on June 13.
Peskov also said Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to meet with Kim Yong Nam, president of the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly, in Moscow on June 14.
While repeatedly voicing support for the meeting between Trump and Kim as it was being planned, Russia has also shown signs that it is eager to avoid being left on the sidelines on an issue in which it has had a substantial role for years.
Although it has less influence on North Korea than China does, Russia has economic ties with the North and its relationship with Pyongyang has traditionally been friendly.
With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036