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North Korea lauds, and basks in, Kim's summit performance

AP  |  Pyongyang 

The series of photos on the front page of the ruling workers' party newspaper showed something North Koreans never would have imagined just months ago their leader Un warmly shaking hands with

The priority treatment of what even is calling the "historic" meeting between Kim and Trump in underscores just how much of a propaganda coup the North saw in yesterday's unprecedented summit.

Dubbing it the start of a new relationship between their countries, which are still technically at war, Pyongyang's first reports Wednesday stressed to the North Korean people that Trump agreed at Kim's demand to halt joint military exercises with as long as talks toward easing tensions continue and suggested that Trump also said he would lift sanctions as negations progressed.

"Trump appreciated that an atmosphere of peace and stability was created on the and in the region, although distressed with the extreme danger of armed clash only a few months ago, thanks to the proactive peace-loving measures taken by the from the outset of this year," said a summary of the leaders' summit by the North's state-run Korean Agency.

The summit capped a swift and astonishing turn of events that began on with a pledge by Kim to reach out to the world now that his nuclear forces have been completed. His focus on diplomacy, including earlier meetings with the leaders of and South Korea, is a sharp contrast with his rapid-fire testing of long-range missiles and the fiery exchanges of threats and insults last year that created real fears of a war on the

Kim has framed the switch as a natural next step now that he has what he stresses is a credible and viable nuclear arsenal capable of keeping the US at bay.

The framing that he went into the summit as an equal and from a position of strength is crucial within North Korea, after enduring years of tough sanctions while it pursued its nuclear ambitions.

Kim's vows to denuclearize were reported by Wednesday within that context that would respond to easing of what it sees as the US hostile policy against it with commensurate but gradual moves toward "the complete denuclearization of the " "Un and Trump had the 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," KCNA reported.

That doesn't seem to pin the to the concrete and unilateral measures Trump said he would demand going into the talks and it remains to be seen what significant changes could occur now that they seem to be moving toward more peaceful relations. Both sides promised to push the process forward quickly, and Trump and Kim exchanged invitations to each other to visit their nations' capitals.

Interestingly, the North made no secret of China's behind-the-scenes presence at the summit. A flurry of the day Kim arrived in showed him waving from the door of the specially chartered flight that brought him from

That is another key to what lies ahead.

Kim's biggest task in the months ahead will most likely be to try to push China, his country's key trading partner, to lift its sanctions and to entice to start once again offering crucial investment in joint ventures and infrastructure projects.

In the meantime, however, the North appears to be basking in it leader's new found status as the most popular kid on the block.

"Singapore, the country of the epoch-making meeting much awaited by the whole world, was awash with thousands of domestic and foreign journalists and a large crowd of masses to see this day's moment which will remain long in history," KCNA noted.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, June 13 2018. 12:30 IST
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