North Korea: Trump agrees on step-by-step denuclearization process

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump meet in Singapore, June 12, 2018 — Photo: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

SINGAPORE (AP) - The Latest on the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump in Singapore (all times local):

7:40 a.m.

North Korea says U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his intention during a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to halt joint military drills between the U.S. and South Korea.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that Trump also expressed his intention to offer security guarantees to North Korea and lift sanctions “over a period of good-will dialogue” between the two countries.

KCNA quoted Kim as saying that the North can take unspecified “additional good-will measures of next stage commensurate with them” if the United States takes genuine measures to build trust.

KCNA quotes Kim as saying it’s “urgent to make a bold decision on halting irritating and hostile military actions against each other.”

Annual military drills between the United States and South Korea have been a major source of tension on the Korean Peninsula. The North has called them an invasion rehearsal and responded with its own weapons tests.
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7 a.m.

North Korea says President Donald Trump has agreed on a step-by-step denuclearization process by North Korea in return for reciprocal concessions from the United States during a summit with its leader Kim Jong Un.

The Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday the two leaders “shared recognition to the effect that it is important to abide by the principle of step-by-step and simultaneous action in achieving peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The reported agreement, if confirmed by the United States, could be considered as a concession by Trump because U.S. officials had called for the North to take swift disarmament measures before getting major outside concessions and benefits.

Some experts say a step-by-step denuclearization process is a ploy to win concessions while delaying disarmament.

Trump and Kim met in Singapore on Tuesday for their countries’ first-ever summit talks.
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3:45 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden says he is troubled by the outcome of the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Biden says in a statement released Tuesday that Trump has given North Korea multiple “wins up front without getting anything in return.” He says those include an easing of pressure on Pyongyang, the suspension of U.S.-South Korean military exercises and the summit itself, which gave Kim legitimacy.

Biden says that in return, Trump got only “vague promises” to begin negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear program, reducing U.S. leverage.

Biden is accusing Trump of taking “an inexcusable and irresponsible approach” to the summit by not fully preparing for it, and he is urging the administration to focus on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
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1:43 a.m.

The parents of Otto Warmbier, the American college student who died after being released from a North Korean prison last year, are thanking President Donald Trump for his kind words about their son.

Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement Tuesday after Trump met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that they appreciated the president’s comments. They said they were hopeful that something positive could come from the summit.

Earlier in Singapore, Trump said that Otto Warmbier was a “very special person” and that his death had galvanized the administration’s determination to deal with North Korea. Trump said Otto Warmbier had not died in vain.

Warmbier was a student at University of Virginia who was arrested by North Korean authorities in January 2016 for stealing a propaganda poster and sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor. After suffering still unexplained brain injuries, he was released on June 13, 2017 and died six days later.
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12:48 a.m.

Israel’s prime minister is congratulating President Donald Trump for an “historic” summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH’-hoo) said in a statement Tuesday that the meeting was an important step toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

He also praised Trump’s “tough” stance on Iran and its nuclear program, which he said was already affecting Iran’s economy. He said: “President Trump’s policies are an important tiding for Israel, the region and the entire world.”

Netanyahu has been one of Trump’s most vocal supporters on the global stage. He vehemently opposed the Iran nuclear deal signed between world powers and Iran, from which the U.S. withdrew last month.
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11:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “loves his people, not that I’m surprised by that, but he loves his people.”

Trump made his comments during an interview with VOA that followed his historic meeting with Kim, looking beyond Kim’s international reputation for having one of the worst human rights records in the world.

Political prisoners in the country number in the tens of thousands and systematic torture and assassinations, including of his own brother, are not unheard of.

In the past, Trump has spoken of the “horror” of life in North Korea and met in February with eight defectors from that country at the White House.
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10:51 p.m.

The Vienna-based body set up to oversee a treaty banning nuclear testing worldwide is welcoming the “positive and direct dialogue” between the U.S. and North Korean leaders and offering to support verification efforts.

Lassina Zerbo is the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. He says he hopes that Tuesday’s summit “will provide a basis for progress toward verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

Zerbo says his group would, if invited, “support any verification activities for the permanent closure of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.”

The organization was created more than 20 years ago to monitor the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but that deal has not yet gone into force because key nations have yet to ratify it.
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10:50 p.m.

The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “an important milestone” in advancing peace and “complete and verifiable denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says the secretary-general “urges all concerned parties to seize this momentous opportunity.”

Dujarric said Guterres wrote to both leaders before the summit and reiterates Tuesday that “the road ahead requires cooperation, compromise and a common cause.”

Guterres told reporters Monday that the International Atomic Energy Agency and other parts of the U.N. system “stand ready to support this process in any way, including verification if requested by the key parties.”
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10:46 p.m.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer says President Donald Trump already has given up American leverage over North Korea.

The New York Democrat said Tuesday during a speech on the Senate floor that Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un might well have been “a reality show summit.”

Schumer spoke as Trump celebrated the first meeting in history between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. But Trump also faced mounting questions about whether he got too little and gave away too much — including an agreement to halt U.S. military exercises with treaty ally South Korea.

He said if North Korea does not denuclearize, the “meeting alone will be a victory for North Korea and a defeat for the U.S.”
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10:15 p.m.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell says President Donald Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un produced “a major step” toward peace.

But the Kentucky Republican said that if the North does not follow through with complete denuclearization, “We and our allies must be prepared to restore the policy of maximum pressure.”

McConnell, speaking Tuesday in Washington, was referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement that the U.S. goal remains the “complete verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.” That language is not included in the agreement.

McConnell added that “the next steps in negotiation will test whether we can get to a verifiable deal which enhances the security of North East Asia, our allies and of course, the United States.”

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5:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump has stunned the Korean Peninsula by announcing the stoppage of U.S.-South Korean annual war games that have long been defended as defensive and vital by the allies.

Trump spoke to reporters after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday and essentially took the North Korean line on the military exercises, calling them "provocative."

The 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea.

Trump called the war games "tremendously expensive," suggested South Korea didn't contribute enough and said they would be "inappropriate" as the U.S. and North Korea negotiate a new relationship.

A statement from South Korean President Moon Jae-in says the Trump-Kim summit opens a new era of peace and cooperation. The statement did not address Trump's comments about the drills.

Seoul's presidential office told the Associated Press that it was trying to discern the exact meaning and intent of Trump's comments.

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5:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he really believes North Korea's Kim Jong Un is going to make good on his promise to denuclearize.

Trump said Tuesday near the end of a lengthy press conference in Singapore that he may be wrong about Kim, but he'll never admit it.

Trump jokes that he "may stand before you in six months and say, 'Hey, I was wrong.'" But he says, "I don't know that I'll ever admit that."

Trump appeared to be in a good spirits as he answered questions for almost an hour following a day of meetings with Kim and other North Korean officials.

He ended by congratulating reporters and saying he's eager to "take it a little bit easy" now that the highly anticipated summit is over.

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5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he thinks "we'll probably need another summit"- or at least a second meeting - with North Korea's Kim Jong Un as they discuss Kim's commitment to denuclearization.

But Trump told reporters in Singapore on Tuesday that he and Kim were able to cover far more ground than he'd expected.

He says, "We're much further along than I would have thought."

Trump answered reporters' questions at a free-wheeling press conference before returning to the U.S.

He appeared to be enjoying himself as he went back and forth with the press.

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5:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says North Korea has a "substantial arsenal" of nuclear weapons and the summit should have happened five years ago.

At a news conference Tuesday after his meeting with Kim Jong Un, Trump discussed efforts to press him to get rid of its nuclear weapons.

The president says that the U.S. doesn't have a lot of intelligence on the country but that "we have enough intelligence to know that what they have is very substantial."

The president says Kim understands what the U.S. has been pushing for in the talks. Trump says, "I think he's going to do these things."

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5:15 p.m.

The spokesman for the Iranian government is warning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that President Donald Trump could nullify any nuclear deal with North Korea.

The semi-official Fars news agency quotes Mohammad Bagher Nobakht as saying Tuesday: "We are facing a man who revokes his signature while abroad."

Nobakht's remarks are the first by an Iranian official after Trump and Kim concluded their nuclear summit.

While flying for talks with Kim on Sunday, Trump rejected an agreement signed by the leaders of the G-7 countries at their summit in Canada.

The U.S. also pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran in May.

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5:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says discussions over the next steps to take with North Korea will be happening soon.

Trump said Tuesday after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that "We're getting together next week to go into the details."

It's unclear where those discussions will take place or which North Korean officials will be involved.

But he says the talks will include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton.

A joint agreement signed by the two leaders earlier Tuesday says the U.S. and North Korea have committed to hold follow-up negotiations, led by Pompeo and "a relevant high-level DPRK official" at the "earliest possible date."

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5:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump says that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "learned" from the mistake of criticizing him and that it's going to cost Canada "a lot of money."

At a news conference in Singapore on Tuesday, Trump recounted his recent tough exchanges with Trudeau. He says the Canadian leader must not have realized that Trump had televisions on Air Force One, allowing him to monitor Trudeau's news conference at the end of the G-7 summit.

The president also recounted his discussions during the G-7 summit and his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the final document. Trump says the photo taken of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others standing before him was taken as they were waiting for changes he'd requested.

Trump says it "didn't look friendly" but it was "very friendly."

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5:05 p.m.

China has suggested that the UN Security Council could consider suspending or lifting sanctions against North Korea if Pyongyang is in compliance with UN resolutions and making progress in diplomatic negotiations.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday that China "welcomes and supports" talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump to reach consensus on denuclearization and establishing a peace mechanism.

Geng told reporters in Beijing that the Security Council's sanctions against the North could be suspended or lifted in accordance with the North's actions.

Geng says, "Sanctions are not an end," Geng said. He says: "We believe the Security Council should make efforts to support the diplomat efforts at the present time."

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5 p.m.

President Donald Trump is pushing back on criticism that the U.S. has gotten little in return for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump told reporters at a news conference in Singapore Tuesday after his meeting that he "gave up nothing."

He says "it's not a big deal" for world leaders to meet with the president of the United States.

Trump announced that he will stop conducting U.S. military "war games" with ally South Korea while negotiations between the two countries continue.

Trump cast the decision as a cost-saving measure, but North Korea has long objected to the drills as a security threat.

Trump also says Kim has committed to denuclearizing his country, but details of how that will happen and be verified have yet to be hashed out.

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4:55 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he had planned to place another 300 sanctions on North Korea recently, but he held off because it would be "disrespectful" ahead of the meeting.

Trump said Tuesday at a news conference in Singapore following his summit with Kim Jong Un that the U.S. will remove the sanctions already in place when they're assured that the nuclear weapons "are no longer a factor."

He also says that it takes "a long time to pull off complete denuclearization" but that he will push for North Korea to remove its nuclear weapons as fast as it can "mechanically and physically" be done.

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4:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump says the remains of U.S. prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War will be returned.

Trump said during a news conference Tuesday after a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore that he asked Kim to commit to returning the remains "and we got it."

The president says he had received "countless calls" and letters from family members asking him to help them receive the remains of their loved ones.

Trump says, "The remains will be coming back. They're going to start that process immediately."

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4:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he'll invite North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit the White House at the "appropriate time." And he says Kim has accepted.

Trump also says he is open to visiting Kim some day in Pyongyang.

Trump is speaking at a press conference Tuesday after a day of meetings with Kim in Singapore.

It was the first time a sitting U.S. president and North Korean leader had met face to face.

Trump praised Kim, calling him "very talented" and pointing to his rise to power at a relatively young age. He also said the U.S. would be ending its joint military exercises with South Korea.

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4:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is destroying a major missile engine testing site.

Trump says Kim informed him of this development during the historic nuclear summit they held Tuesday in Singapore.

Trump did not give a location for the testing site.

He says the details about the site being destroyed were not included in the joint declaration the leaders signed after nearly five hours of talks because they agreed to it after the document was signed.

Trump says destruction of the site is a "big thing."

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4:40 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his repeated praise of North Korea's Kim Jong Un during their meetings in spite of Kim's distressing record on human rights.

Trump told reporters at a press conference in Singapore on Tuesday that Kim "is very talented." He pointed to Kim's rise to power at a relatively young age.

Trump has appeared largely unconcerned about the implications of feting an authoritarian leader suspected of ordering the public assassination of his half brother with a nerve agent, executing his uncle by firing squad and killing U.S. college student Otto Warmbier.

But Trump says without Warmbier's death, his meeting with Kim may not have happened. He says, "Otto did not die in vain."

Trump says human rights did come up during the talks, albeit briefly.

Trump says he believes Kim wants to do the right thing.

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4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he will be ending joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

Trump made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference in Singapore after his historic meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has long objected to the annual exercises, viewing them as practice for future military action against the North by the United States.

Trump cast his decision as a financial consideration, saying the U.S. will save a lot of money by canceling the drills.

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4:25 p.m.

President Donald Trump is thanking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "for taking the first bold step toward a bright new future for his people" after the leaders' historic Singapore summit.

Trump said at a news conference Tuesday after meeting face to face with Kim that "real change is indeed possible."

He also says that he's prepared "to start a new history" and "write a new chapter" between the two nations.

He says, "The past does not have to define the future."

Trump held a news conference in Singapore before returning home.

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4:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he gave North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a video that laid out the opportunities of their historic meeting.

Reporters were shown the video before the start of Trump's news conference Tuesday. The video resembled a preview of a film. It shows images of warplanes and artillery and says there can "only be two results," one of moving back or moving forward.

The video shows the two leaders and raises the questions: "What if history can be changed? Will the world embrace this change?"

The president says he gave the video "to Chairman Kim and his people."

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4:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is finally revealing that he spoke directly with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ahead of their Singapore summit.

Trump said in an interview Tuesday with ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he'd spoken with Kim and others before the summit.

Trump had dodged the question for weeks, refusing to answer reporters who asked about their contact.

During a visit to Mar-a-Lago in April, Trump told a reporter that he had spoken with Kim personally, but an aide quickly walked back the statement, saying it was other officials who'd spoken with Kim.

It was later revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had traveled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim.

Trump is describing his day with Kim as "very intense." He says he believes Kim wants to get denuclearization "done" and says he trusts Kim.

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3:50 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has spoken with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts after President Donald Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo tweeted shortly after the summit ended Tuesday that he'd telephoned South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. The State Department released a photograph of Pompeo on the phone.

Pompeo says on Twitter he provided the diplomats with "a brief readout of today's meeting" between Trump and Kim. The two leaders concluded their summit by signing a document in which Trump pledged "security guarantees" to the North and Kim reiterated his commitment to "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

The State Department is declining to release any additional information about the calls.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un have concluded an extraordinary nuclear summit by signing a document in which Trump pledged "security guarantees" to the North and Kim reiterated his commitment to "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Light on specifics, the document largely amounted to an agreement to continue discussions as it reiterated previous public statements and past commitments. It did not include an agreement to take steps toward ending the technical state of warfare between the U.S. and North Korea.

The pair promised in the document to "build a lasting and stable peace regime" on the Korean Peninsula and to repatriate remains of prisoners of war and those missing in action during the Korean War.