Japan PM hails Trump-Kim agreement as 'first step'

AFP Trump leaves hotel for historic summit with Kim

The US President told reporters he expect he'll have "a terrific relationship with" the North Korean leader. The halted exercises seem to be a concession to Pyongyang, which has repeatedly claimed that the drills are practice for a strike against North Korea.

President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un kicked off a momentous summit Tuesday, with Trump declaring the two would have a "great discussion" and Kim saying they had overcome "obstacles" to get to this point.

Along with establishing himself as an equal and reinventing his persona overseas as a "normal" leader of a "normal" nation - he even took a selfie with Singapore's foreign minister that was posted on Twitter, which like all other social media is banned in the North - Kim's primary objective at the summit was to undermine support for worldwide trade sanctions that have long hindered his plans to develop North Korea's economy.

Japan has maintained a hardline position on North Korea despite a whirlwind of diplomacy towards Pyongyang in recent months, and has been left largely on the sidelines as South Korea and the United States have held talks with Kim.

Trump also said that Korean war will "soon end".

"We can replace the horrors of battle with the blessings of peace", Trump said in a press conference, reported the BBC, after he signed an agreement with Kim. "President (Barack) Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most unsafe problem".

Independent experts say the North could have enough fissile material for anywhere between about a dozen and 60 nuclear bombs.

The 75-year-old grandmother usually takes to the air for major announcements, including ebulliently reporting the news of North Korea's sixth and largest nuclear test last September. Pompeo was slated to fly on to Beijing later Thursday.

"Wow. If this is it. this is depressing", tweeted Robert E. Kelly, Professor of Political Science at Pusan National University in South Korea.

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At the summit held in Singapore yesterday, Trump and Kim signed a document in which North Korea committed to "complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" in exchange for United States security guarantees.

In his post-summit media conference, Trump made the surprise announcement that the USA would halt joint military exercises with its security ally Seoul - something long sought by Pyongyang, which claims the drills are a rehearsal for invasion.

"We are ready to write a new chapter between our nations", Trump told reporters after the much-talked about summit - the first between a sitting USA president and North Korea's top leader.

There is a precedent for cancelling joint exercises to encourage talks.

Trump declared he and Kim had developed "a very special bond", and Kim said the leaders had "decided to leave the past behind" and promised, "The world will see a major change".

Trump has said he'll know within minutes whether a deal can be made to settle a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program. The next scheduled major exercise, involving tens of thousands of troops, normally would be held in August.

In Japan, the prospect of cancelled US-South Korean drills was met with concern.

"In coordination with our ROK [South Korean] partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense and/or Indo-Pacific Command", the U.S. Forces-Korea statement said.

In South Korea, the liberal Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper said Trump and Kim have started a "march of peace" to end almost seven decades of hostility and pave the way for permanent peace and prosperity on the peninsula. He said North Korea is likely to consider Trump's decision a temporary measure while it remains in negotiations with Washington.