U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met on Tuesday in Singapore, shaking hands, praising each other and talking of a path to peace and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Major persecution watchdog groups, such as Open Doors USA, have said that Trump should have taken Kim to task for the horrific abuse of Christians and other minorities in North Korea, however.
The historic summit was the first ever meeting between a sitting U.S. president and his North Korean counterpart, with news media around the world capturing photos and videos of Trump and Kim shaking hands and walking together, seemingly in an upbeat mood.
A joint statement released by the two leaders explained that in private they had a "comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions" on the issues between the two countries, aimed at facilitating peace.
"President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the statement reads.
A four-point promise found in the statement notes that the peoples of both countries want "peace and prosperity."
The document says that both the U.S. and North Korea will work toward stable peace on the Korean Peninsula, and reaffirms Kim's commitment toward complete denuclearization. Finally, it commits both countries to recovering and repatriating the remains of prisoners of war.
Political commentators said that despite the statement, not much has been made clear in terms of specifics.
"It is unclear if further negotiations will lead to the end goal of denuclearization," Anthony Ruggiero of Washington's Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank told Reuters.
"This looks like a restatement of where we left negotiations more than 10 years ago and not a major step forward."
Open Doors USA President David Curry released a statement just before the Trump-Kim meeting, reacting to news that the two leaders wouldn't address the horrific human rights abuses going on in North Korea.
"It would be very disappointing if President Trump does not plan to call Kim Jong Un to task for his litany of human rights abuses — especially his imprisonment, torture and execution of Christians who would dare express any beliefs other than those approved by the Communist regime," Curry declared.
"For the 17th consecutive year, North Korea is the No. 1 most dangerous place to be a Christian, according to the Open Doors World Watch List," he added.
"The people of North Korea continue to deserve our vocal, prayerful and relentless support."
He added that the 300,000 or so Christians under Kim's regime are forced to keep their faith a secret, often with entire families being persecuted for a single member being exposed as a follower of Christ. The watchdog group warned that at least 50,000 Christians are believed to be in prison camps, facing "deplorable conditions."
A week before the summit, some 300 human rights groups, including other Christian organizations, said that Kim must commit to massive changes in the way citizens are treated if North Korea is to really improve.
The groups urged Kim to end the forced labor and detention of political prisoners, who they said are subjected to "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, inhuman treatment, rape" and other abuses.
Trump has been answering questions from U.S. and international media in Singapore following the summit, where he argued that not all progress can be achieved in a day.
The U.S. president called Kim "very talented" and said that he found out how much the latter "loves his country." Trump also said that he invited Kim to the White House in Washington D.C.
He added that the economic sanctions on North Korea will remain in place for now, but that he looks forward "to taking them off" when he is confident about denuclearization.
When asked about human rights, Trump claimed that they were discussed in his private meeting with Kim, but did not provide details.
"I believe it's a rough situation over there ... It's rough, it's rough in a lot of places by the way," Trump said, but added that the main purpose of Tuesday's discussion was "denuking."