Photo above: Jefferson Memorial. Right: Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., 2016. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
U.S. Timeline - The 2010s
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Detail - 2018
June 11, 2018 - Meetings between the United States President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un become the first summit between leaders of the two nations, with discussions about North Korea giving up its ambitions for nuclear weapons.
The contention between the two nations had been tested for decades, dating back to the Korean War, as well as before. In fact, the Korean War had never been declared officially over (armistace but no peace agreement) and throughout more than fifty years, United States troops guarded the demilitarized zone in between North and South Korea with twenty-five thousand troops. Presidents from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama had, in recent decades, attempted diplomacy in a variety of ways, but were thwarted by the current President, Kim Jong-un, and his father, Kim Jong-il, in their goal to stop the development nuclear weapons. Increased testing had been ongoing for the North Korean nation with missiles tossed over the Sea of Japan and threats to American territories as well as the state of Hawaii.
The idea of holding a summit between the two leaders was controversial. Would face to face negotiations end with the same fate as other forays? Would elevating the North Korean leader to equal status with the President of the United States embolden him by agreeing to face to face talks? Could they possibly lead to peace and the destruction of the North Korean nuclear missile program and ambition?
President Trump believed that negotiations coupled with frank talk and a show of force was preferable to former President Obama's strategic patience initiative. Joint military exercises with South Korea in May 2017 sent the message of strength while South Korean counterpart, newly elected President Moon Jae-in stated a preference to return to friendly relations with North Korea, the Sunshire Policy. With the testing of North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile, Hwasong-14, on July 4, 2017, which landed five hundred and eighty miles away in the Sea of Japan, tensions grew. President Trump issued a warning that further tests or an attack on the territory of the United States would be met with full force. North Korea subsequently, on August 8, was reported to be considering a missile test that would approach Guam, a U.S. Territory with military bases and six thousand troops located over two thousand miles from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on September 9, 2017. The population of Guam is 162,000 and it had been a possession of the United States since the outcome of the Spanish-American War.
The threat of that missile strike, as well as the testing of what some experts think was a hydrogen bomb on September 3, 2017, caused a response from the President and United Nations; economic sanctions and an addition to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. North Korea, however, did not back down. On November 28, they tested the Hwasong-15 missile, which could possibly reach the continental United States. Further sanctions were invoked.
On March 8, 2018, South Korea announced that it would meet with North Korean leaders for the 3rd Inter-Korean Summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in attendance and relayed that information to the White House. Several days after the announcement, President Trump endorsed the idea of an United States-North Korean Summit for May. Santions would stay in place, and the goal of denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula would be pursued.
On April 11, 2018, North Korea presented five conditions for their denuclearization, but did not require United States troops leave the demilitarized zone. Their goals focused on diplomatic relations, keeping U.S. nuclear assets from the vicinity, a declaration that their would be no attack, and finalizing a peace treaty to end the Korean War.
The White House wanted an end to the North Korean nuclear program. During the prelude to a May meeting, harsh words were exchanged between leaders of both nations, causing President Turmp to cancel the meeting, subsequently rescheduled for Singapore on June 11 (USA Time), 12 (Singapore Time), 2018.
President Trump arrived at the Capella Hotel in Singapore, followed by the North Korean leader, and the two shook hands at 9:05 a.m., June 12 (Singapore Time), 9:05 p.m., June 11 (United States EST). After one on one talks between the two Presidents for forty minutes, expanded bilateral talks continued. A joint statement was released upon completion.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth, and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Convinced that the establishment of new U.S.-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and of the world, and recognizing that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:
The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new U.S.-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
Having acknowledged that the U.S.-DPRK summit - the first in history - was an epochal event of great significance in overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening up of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously. The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations, led by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the U.S.-DPRK summit.
President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new U.S.-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean Peninsula and of the world.
DONALD J. TRUMP
President of the United States of America
KIM JONG UN
Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
June 12, 2018
History of the Relationship
Prior to the Korean War, the political relationship between the United States and the Korean Peninsula had been, at best, complicated. Part of the Japanese empire in the early 20th century, the Korean Peninsula had been a Japanese protectorate since the Russo-Japanese War ended in 1905, becoming fully annexed by Japan in 1910. Attempts for independence through the beginning of World War II, usually from exile, failed. In November 1943, at the Cairo conference, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Great Britain Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Republic of China leader Chiang Kai-shek discussed taking all of Japan's possessions gained by force once the war was won. This included taking away the Korean peninsula, which they thought enslaved by Japan, and putting it into a trusteeship. Stalin agreed, although when the Soviet Union entered the war against Japan and marched down the Korean Peninsula, U.S. officials got concerned that they would take all of Korea and incorporate it into Russia. The 38th parallel was proposed to split the nation in two, with the Soviet Union in control of the North and the United States in control of the South.
Upon the surrender of Japan on August 17, 1945, the split was approved in General Order No. 1 by President Truman. By December, a trusteeship was formed, including the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the Republic of China. With the Soviet Union still occupying the North, a new government was enacted in February 1946, the Provisional People's Committe, under Kim Il-sung. Soviet troops would leave on December 10, 1948. Various attempts during this period to form a united Korean government for the whole peninsula failed; the Cold War, newly started, was preventing agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States, even on the question of Korean Unification.
Separate elections were proposed under United Nation auspices; this was not preferred by the citizens of the Koreas. On August 15, 1948, the "Republic of Korea" in the South took over power from the United States under President Syngman Rhee. In the North, the "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" was enacted on September 9, 1948, with Kim Il-sung, grandfather of Kim Jong-un, as Prime Minister. The division of the Koreas was not popular, leading to many border clashes, and eventually the Korean War on June 25, 1950.
Photo above: President Donald J. Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un at the Korean Summit in Singapore, 2018, Dan Scavino, Executive Office of the President. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Below: Men of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division near the Hantan River, April 11, 1951. Courtesy U.S. Army Signal Corps, Library of Congress. Info source: "North Korea Considering Firing Missiles at Guam, per State Media," 2017, Fox News; "Where is Guam and Why is North Korea Threatening It," August 9, 2017, Jamie Grierson, The Guardian; Whitehouse.gov; "Trump Kim Summit: US and North Korean leaders hold historic talks," June 12, 2018, BBC.com; Wikipedia Commons.
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