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Donald Trump to meet Kim Jong-un: From hopeful South Korea to cautious Japan, a look at reactions to Singapore summit

US president Donald Trump accepted an invitation to meet North Korea's Kim Jong-un, nixed the summit abruptly and then announced that the meeting was back on after receiving a "very nice letter" from the North Korean leader. This back and forth turn of events between the two unpredictable leaders has set off a flurry of reactions all over.

From anxiety about the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader to skepticism, every country is looking forward to the 'historical' summit in a different way.

US president Donald Trump arrives for the summit. AP

US president Donald Trump arrives for the summit. AP

The summit on 12 June in Singapore can lay the groundwork for ending a nuclear standoff between the old foes and the transformation of the isolated state. The US president has said that it is a "one-time shot" for the autocratic leader to ditch his nuclear weapons. He even appeared confident of gauging "within the first minute" of meeting whether the North Korean leader is serious about the nuclear negotiations.

The planned unprecedented summit, for which both the leaders have arrived in Singapore, has raised hopes of Trump striking a deal which would ultimately lead to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. However, the fact that the US president is relying on "instinct" has added to the unease of world leaders. Former administration officials told Reuters that Trump will deploy a mix of charm and pressure to coax Kim into a deal to give up nuclear weapons, trusting his gut instinct over briefing books in his ability to strike an accord.

Declaring the summit to be "much more than a photo-op," Trump had predicted "a terrific success or a modified success" when he meets with Kim in Singapore.

Despite Trump's claims of "success", his allies and other nations have appeared more cautious while talking about the 12 June summit. US allies in the region have expressed concern that Trump's push to denuclearise Korea could ignore the North's sophisticated ballistic missile and chemical weapons programs.

Here's a look at how countries have responded to the upcoming meet between Trump and Kim.


Tokyo, despite welcoming the upcoming summit, was cautious in its approach. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "Japan and the United States will not waver in its firm stance that they will continue to put maximum pressure until North Korea takes concrete action towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible end to nuclear missile development."

In his joint address after meeting Trump, Abe said he hopes the Singapore summit is a "resounding success."

He also said, "Japan, based on the Japan-North Korea Pyongyang Declaration, is prepared to settle the unfortunate past, to normalise our diplomatic relations, and to provide economic cooperation."

Japan, some analysts told AP, is relying on Trump because Abe has been unable to meet Kim. Japan worries about being marginalised by other regional players who have increased their interaction with North Korea.

Abe doesn't want Trump to strike a compromise on North Korea's missile program that would leave Japan exposed to shorter-range missiles that do not reach the US mainland, or would relieve pressure on North Korea before it takes concrete steps toward complete denuclearisation, they added.

If Trump focuses on long-range missiles and a peace treaty, which might lead to a reduction of US troops in South Korea, it would pose a security risk for Japan, analysts said.


Beijing has also welcomed the meet with its foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang saying, "We welcome this positive signal by the US and North Korea in having direct dialogue."

China has also urged Trump and Kim to show "political courage" in pursuing the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

According to The Straits Times, China has long pushed for the US to meet North Korea, saying the two sides need to iron out their disagreements face to face.

Beijing wants to ensure its interests are preserved in the negotiations, namely that no outcome leads to a pro-US united Korea and the stationing of potentially hostile troops along its border, analysts told AP. China wants to see the Kim regime adopt Chinese-style economic reforms and has pressured South Korea to remove a US anti-missile system that it regards as threatening China's nuclear deterrent, according to AP.

South Korea

While the "world peace mission" is of great significance to several countries, South Korea is possibly the nation which would be largely affected by how the meeting between Trump and Kim goes down.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un greeted by Singapore minister for foreign affairs. AP

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un greeted by Singapore minister for foreign affairs. AP

North and South Korea have warmed up to each other in recent days and "sought closer ties." At a historic summit meeting between Kim and South Korean president Moon Jae-in, the two leaders agreed to denuclearise the peninsula.

It was the South Korean government which brokered the historic summit between Trump-Kim and expressed hopes that the meeting will help ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

"We are praying for the success of the US-North Korea summit," a Cheong Wa Dae official was quoted as saying in another The Straits Times report.

South Koreans, according to AP, hope that improved relations between the US and North Korea would ease tensions, adding momentum for inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation. Some even speculate that Trump and Kim may discuss a peace treaty formally ending the 1950-1953 Korean War, replacing the current armistice.


Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told AP that the Kremlin considered the Trump-Kim meeting "a step in the right direction." An agreement between the US and North Korea, he said, is "necessary for normalising the situation around the Korean peninsula."

According to The Newsweek, Russian president Vladimir Putin even said that his country will ensure Trump's meeting with Kim is a success.

"We will be waiting for the outcome of the meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and will contribute to the success of this meeting in every possible way," Putin was quoted as saying in the report.

Russia has also urged the international community to ensure economic development of North Korea and even invited Kim to Moscow.

Lavrov, after a meet with Kim in Pyongyang, said that Moscow hoped all sides would take a measured approach to possible forthcoming talks on a nuclear settlement.

"This will allow for the realisation not only of the denuclearisation of the whole Korean peninsula but also to provide sustainable peace and stability across north east Asia," Lavrov said.

Some other countries, whom Trump managed to antagonise at the G7 summit by pulling back US' endorsement of the G7 summit's communique, have also reacted to the meet between the US president and the North Korean leader.

French president Emmanuel Macron said that the international community supports Trump's efforts to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula, but "if he does succeed in his negotiations with North Korea, we want him also to remain credible on the nuclear situation in Iran." Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord over the objections of European allies.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has also hailed the talks between the two leaders and called it a "glimmer of hope." "It would ofcourse be wonderful if we could see an easing of tensions because... the nuclearisation in North Korea has been a source of great concern for all of us," she said.

Britain also welcomed the talks between Trump and Kim but, said that it will keep up pressure on North Korea. "We have always been clear that we want Kim Jong-un to change path and put the welfare of his people ahead of the illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons," British prime minister Theresa May's spokesman said.

"We will continue to work closely with the US, South Korea and the international community to ensure that pressure on North Korea continues and sanctions are strictly enforced until Kim Jong-un matches his words with concrete actions."

As the two leaders meet in Singapore in what is being dubbed a "mission of peace" by the US president, world leaders will eagerly await the outcome of the talks.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jun 11, 2018 13:08 PM

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