SINGAPORE — President Trump said Tuesday North Korea has agreed to relinquish its nuclear weapons and is already "much further along" in changing their behavior, and is prepared to rewrite history to push for a lasting peace and complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
"We're prepared to start a new history, and we're ready to write a new chapter between our nations," Trump said in a solo press conference after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Singapore. "There is no limit to what North Korea can achieve when it gives up its nuclear weapons and embraces commerce — an engagement with the rest of the world."
The president said Pyongyang had "given up a massive amount" long before he met with Kim, citing its release of three Korean-American hostages and dismantlement of a key nuclear test site at Punngye-ri. Trump expects the process of denuclearization will "go very quickly" from here.
"Scientifically, it does take a long time [but] once you start the process, it means it's pretty much over. We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done," Trump said.
Trump noted that the U.S. agreed to end war games with South Korea in that region of the world, while North Korea agreed to dismantle a missile engine testing site, more signs of progress.
"This isn't the past, this isn't another administration that never got it started and therefore never got it done," he added.
While the joint statement did not address human rights, Trump stressed that he wants "significant improvement" on that issue in North Korea before sanctions are lifted, and indicated this would be a matter to discuss later as the process unfolds.
Trump stressed that there can't be any guarantees that North Korea will stick to the script in the coming months and continue negotiating along the lines of the joint statement he signed with Kim. But he said he believes Kim is sincere and declined to outline how he might respond if they renege on what they have agreed to.
"I think he wants to make a deal. Can anybody be certain?" he said.
Trump spoke just a few hours after signing a joint statement with Kim committing both countries to seeking a "lasting and stable peace" on the peninsula. The president said he would be more than willing to travel to Pyongyang down the road if talks with North Korea continue to go smoothly.
"That will be a day that I will very much look forward to, at the appropriate time," he said, adding that he also would extend an invitation for Kim to visit Washington "at the appropriate time."
Trump thanked his hosts in Singapore for the meeting, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The extended press conference lasted more than an hour, and included more than two dozen questions from foreign and American reporters.