SINGAPORE — North Korea’s official media described the unprecedented summit in Singapore between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un as a "historic" success for the North Korean leader, underscoring the meeting's propaganda value for a regime long isolated from the international community.
The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) called Tuesday's summit an "epoch-making meeting much awaited by the whole world." KCNA highlighted the concessions it said Trump made to Kim, including the claim that the president agreed to lift sanctions on Pyongyang as relations between the countries improved.
Trump said the sanctions "will come off when we are sure that the nukes are no longer a factor," referring to Washington's insistence that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program. Trump said he would like to lift economic sanctions in return for Pyongyang denuclearizing, but said that there were no immediate plans to do so.
The joint declaration signed by both leaders at the summit was also light on specific details of any policy changes. The KCNA report released Wednesday noted that Trump "expressed his intention to halt the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises, which Pyongyang regards as provocation," and would "offer security guarantees to the DPRK," referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK.
But the military drills were not mentioned in the joint declaration. Trump announced that the U.S. would be ending the exercises during his press conference.
"We will be stopping the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should," he said.
The announcement caught many by surprise, including the leadership of the U.S. military stationed in South Korea. A military spokeswoman in Seoul, Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett, said in a statement that U.S. Forces Korea command "has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises."
About 30,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines and Air Force members are stationed in South Korea where they regularly participate in live-fire drills.
The KCNA report also gave a detailed account of events from the summit, going into a level of detail that is rare for North Korean media.
North Korea is one of the most isolated countries on Earth and its approximately 24 million people have limited contact with the outside world.
The article outlined a timeline of conversations and photo opportunities and portrayed an amiable rapport between Trump and Kim. After their lunch meeting, KCNA reported that “the top leaders had a walk, deepening friendly feelings.”
North Korea's media coverage of Kim’s trip was also far more comprehensive than usual, with a large number of reporters and photographers accompanying the North Korean delegation. On Tuesday morning, the front pages of North Korean newspapers were plastered with smiling images of Kim on a Monday evening Singapore tour.