Singapore - Tuesday's summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un drew quick reactions from nearby countries, with China immediately seizing the opportunity to suggest sanctions relief for North Korea.
China is North Korea's main economic partner and has long been its key diplomatic ally, but Beijing signed onto the stringent sanctions imposed by the United Nations last year.
Hours after the summit, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that the U.N. Security Council could consider easing sanctions if North Korea makes progress in diplomatic relations and denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
"Sanctions are not an end," said Geng at a daily briefing, according to the Associated Press. "We believe the Security Council should make efforts to support the diplomatic efforts at the present time."
China accounts for around 90% of North Korea's trade and has been accused in the past of working around sanctions to support Pyongyang, but Geng said that China has been following the sanctions "comprehensively, accurately and strictly.'
Reaction from Japan was more muted. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised the agreement signed by Trump and Kim, but noted that it was only the start in the process of denuclearization.
"We see this as a step in a comprehensive resolution," Abe said on Tuesday in Tokyo.
Japan has taken a hard line on insisting that North Korea agree to complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. Today's agreement promised "to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,' but did not include details on verification or a timeframe for the process.
Abe also thanked Trump for raising the issue of the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea, which has remained a highly contentious issue between Tokyo and Pyongyang for decades.
Trump answered a question about the abduction issue in his news conference after the summit, saying he spoke to Kim about it and that Pyongyang was "working on that.'
"I'd like to thank President Trump that he raised the abduction issue clearly,' Abe said.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the summit "a crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,' and said that Singapore "is honored to have played host.'
The most effusive praise for the summit came from South Korea, which has been technically at war with North Korea since the Korean War concluded with an armistice, but not a peace treaty, in 1953.
President Moon Jae-in, who has been instrumental in pushing the peace process forward and who had his own historic meeting with Kim in April, praised Trump and the North Korean leader for "taking a daring step towards change.' Moon said that Trump "achieved a feat that no one else has delivered.'
Moon framed today's event in terms of a lasting legacy.
"The June 12 Sentosa Agreement will be recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on earth,' he said.
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