Australia praises Trump-Kim ‘step forward’


Australian political leaders have hailed the historic denuclearisation summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump in Singapore as a step forward.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged at the summit on Tuesday to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

“We look forward to continued dialogue and diplomacy to achieve these objectives,” Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday evening.

“North Korea must now take concrete and verifiable steps to implement its commitments.”

Pyongyang remained bound by UN Security Council resolutions banning its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Ms Bishop added.

“Australia will continue to work closely with our partners to coordinate actions in support of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” she said.

Tuesday’s summit was the first time a sitting US president met face-to-face with a North Korean leader.

Along with the denuclearisation pledge, Washington also committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.

The leaders also promised 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.

Mr Trump said he had formed a “special bond” with Mr Kim.

“We had a terrific day and we learned a lot about each other and our countries,” Mr Trump said.

“We’ll meet many times.”

Asked whether he would invite Mr Kim to the White House, Mr Trump said: “Absolutely, I will.”

Mr Kim, whose country is subject to a broad range of international sanctions – including from Australia – over its illegal weapons program, said he and Mr Trump had “decided to leave the past behind”.

“The world will see a major change,” the North Korean leader said through an interpreter.

After a 13-second greeting handshake, Mr Kim reportedly told Mr Trump through a translator: “Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy … from a science fiction movie.”

Labor leader Bill Shorten said not many people would have predicted the summit would take place, so he was pleased it occurred.

“My view is always you achieve more by talking in the same room than yelling at each other through megaphones at a distance,” he told reporters.

“But I’m cautious. On this issue the national government and I are of one mind. We’re pleased to see it, but we’ve seen discussions before, in previous decades.”

Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd was one of the first to respond to the signing ceremony.

“Just now, a very, very big moment in history … and a long, long way to go,” Mr Rudd tweeted.

Government frontbencher James McGrath put it in a historic context: “As Churchill said, it is better to jaw jaw than war war.”

The two leaders met with just two interpreters in the room, before joining senior officials at a broader meeting.

Australia has imposed sanctions on North Korea – covering travel, goods and services, banking and scientific co-operation – since 2006 in response to concerns about the regime’s weapons programs.

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