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Back in US after summit, Trump says North Korea 'no longer a nuclear threat'

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (L) shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018
Saul LOEB (AFP)

US President Donald Trump arrived back in Washington Wednesday after attending a groundbreaking summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

As dawn broke, Air Force One touched down at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland outside the US capital and Trump, wearing an open collar white shirt, waved as he walked down a red-carpeted staircase and got into a limousine.

Trump was apparently tweeting even as the plane landed.

"Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!" the US President wrote.

"Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!" Trump added.

Jung Yeon-je (AFP/File)

He also praised himself for backing a woman who won a Republican primary Tuesday in South Carolina, defeating a Trump critic, and repeated an earlier tweet of his criticizing Robert de Niro, who used an expletive to blast the president at the Tony Awards.

In the tweet Trump called the actor "a very Low IQ individual."

Pyongyang state media reported Wednesday that Trump accepted an invitation from Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea during their historic summit, as the US president said the world had jumped back from the brink of "nuclear catastrophe".

Critics have said the unprecedented encounter in Singapore was more style than substance, producing a document short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang's atomic weapons.

But in a characteristically bullish tweet, Trump said the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two Cold War foes meant "the World has taken a big step back from potential Nuclear catastrophe!"

"No more rocket launches, nuclear testing or research! The hostages are back home with their families. Thank you to Chairman Kim, our day together was historic!"

Pool Photo by Anthony Wallace via AP

In the joint statement following Tuesday's talks, Kim agreed to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" -- a stock phrase favoured by Pyongyang that stopped short of long-standing US demands for North Korea to give up its atomic arsenal in a "verifiable" and "irreversible" way.

The official KCNA news agency ran a glowing dispatch, describing the summit as an "epoch-making meeting" that would help foster "a radical switchover in the most hostile (North Korea)-US relations".

The report said the two men "gladly accepted" mutual invitations to visit each other's countries.

Pyongyang has reason to feel confident after the meeting, where the leader of the world's most powerful democracy shook hands with the third generation of a dynastic dictatorship, standing as equals in front of their nations' flags.

The spectacle was a major coup for an isolated and heavily sanctioned regime that has long craved international legitimacy.

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

SAUL LOEB (AFP)

The US stations around 30,000 troops in security ally South Korea to protect it from its neighbor, which invaded in 1950 in an attempt to reunify the peninsula by force.

Both Seoul and US military commanders in the South indicated they had no idea the announcement was coming, and in an editorial Wednesday the Korea Herald said it was "worrisome".

Only a few months ago, Kim and Trump were swapping personal insults such as "dotard" and "little rocket man" and the North conducted its six and most powerful nuclear test, as well as firing missiles over Japan.

Trump vowed to rain down "fire and fury" on Pyongyang if it threatened the US but instead in Singapore it was compliments that flowed, as the president described Kim as "talented" and said they had forged a "special bond."

After a day filled with smiles and handshakes watched around the world, the US "committed to provide security guarantees" to North Korea.

(Staff with AFP)

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