A crowd of supporters at his campaign rally in Michigan this weekend reacted to President Donald Trump in a way no one expected — and it left Trump speechless for a moment while he soaked it all in.
Speaking about the tough talk and harsh sanctions the White House had imposed on North Korea, Trump was telling the crowd how just months ago it was “very tough” but breakthroughs had been made.
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In response, the crowd began chanting “Nobel! Nobel! Nobel!”
For twenty seconds, a stunned Trump stood in silence before finally managing to say, “That’s very nice, thank you. Nobel, huh? I just want to get the job done.”
The chant was in response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in calling on the Nobel Peace Prize selection committee to give the award to Trump for his work on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and bringing a formal end to the 70-year-old Korean War.
“President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace,” Moon told a meeting of senior secretaries, according to a Korean officials. During their historic meeting Friday at a Korean border village, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Moon agreed to end hostile acts against each other along their tense border and agreed to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
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North Korea said that Western nuclear experts and journalists would be invited to watch them decommission their nuclear test sites, a major step towards establishing lasting peace on the Asian peninsula.
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South Korean officials also cited Kim as saying he would be willing to give up his nuclear programs if the United States commits to a formal end to the Korean War and a pledge not to attack the North. Kim had already suspended his nuclear and missile tests while offering to put his nukes up for negotiations.
Under former President Barack Obama’s administration, North Korea brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Just a year later — thanks to Trump’s “get tough, stay tough” posturing and the White House’s pressure on China for support — the Koreas are officially ending the conflict and pledging to scrap their nuclear weapons.
Critics point out that Obama was given a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 — an award the committee later said they regretted.
The closing of the Punggy-ri test site, where all six of North Korea’s atomic bomb tests occurred, could be an eye-catching disarmament step by Pyongyang. But there remains deep skepticism over whether Kim is truly willing to negotiate away the nukes that his country has built after decades of struggle.
According to a summit accord, Kim and Moon agreed to achieve “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through complete denuclearization,” rather than clearly stating “a nuclear-free North Korea.” Pyongyang has long said the term “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” must include the United States pulling its 28,500 troops out of South Korea and removing its so-called “nuclear umbrella” security commitment to South Korea and Japan, but under Trump has dropped that demand.
Kim could offer more disarmament concessions during his meeting with President Donald Trump, expected in May or June, but it’s unclear what specific steps he would take. Some experts say Kim may announce scraping North Korea’s long-range missile program, which has posed a direct threat to the United States.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton reacted coolly to word that Kim would abandon his weapons if the United States pledged not to invade.
Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” whether the U.S. would make such a promise, Bolton said: “Well, we’ve heard this before. This is — the North Korean propaganda playbook is an infinitely rich resource. What we want to see from them is evidence that it’s real and not just rhetoric.”
Kim’s meeting with Moon was his second summit with a foreign leader since he took office in late 2011. In March, he traveled to Beijing and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. While meeting with Xi, Kim suggested he prefers a step-by-step disarmament process in line with corresponding outside rewards, according to Chinese state media. U.S. officials want the North to take complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament measures.
China said Monday that its foreign minister, Wang Yi, will visit Pyongyang on Wednesday and Thursday.
China is North Korea’s only major economic partner, but trade has declined by about 90 percent following Beijing’s implementation of economic sanctions imposed over the North’s nuclear and missile tests. Experts credit Trump’s foreign policy moves for the dramatic shift.
In January, Moon said Trump “deserves big credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks. It could be a resulting work of the U.S.-led sanctions and pressure”.
It seems he’s right — and it’s time for the Nobel Peace Prize committee to recognize that fact.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article