And in 1994, the U.S. and North Korea signed an "Agreed Framework," which said Pyongyang would "consistently take steps to implement" a denuclearization pact from two years earlier.
"The declaration amounts to pretty much nothing — it's an empty commitment," Andrei Lankov, a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul, told NBC News.
Lankov said he believed Trump had achieved an accomplishment by bringing Kim to the negotiating table, but squandered the opportunity by letting the despot give nothing away while gaining a plethora of photo opportunities and good PR.
"The Americans had the opportunity to force the North Koreans to make significant concessions, but they didn't use the advantage they had," said Lankov, who is also director of the NK News website.
The North Koreans are in no rush. Trump will be president for a maximum of seven more years; Kim plans to rule North Korea for the rest of his life.
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Even if these are just the opening pleased-to-meet-yous, skeptics predict the North will drag its heels, canceling meetings, fudging details, so that the ever-more distant prospect of "denuclearization," while agreed upon, is never actually fulfilled.
"They will play for time," Lankov said.
Rüdiger Frank, a professor of East Asian economy and society at the University of Vienna, wrote on Twitter that "Trump saved the process by taking it slow and one baby step at a time, rather than killing it before it starts."
On Tuesday it appeared Kim didn't surrender any more ground on his nuclear arsenal than his isolated state has done in the past three decades
"I don't think Kim Jong Un has given up anything that hasn't been given up before," Christopher Hill, who served as ambassador to South Korea under President Barack Obama, told MSNBC. "I wouldn't even call this a statement — it's a restatement."
In return for the North working toward denuclearization, the agreement said the U.S. would "provide security guarantees" to North Korea — without saying what those might be.
Ending US-ROK exercises is in excess of all expert consensus, South Korean requests, and even a close reading of North Korean demands. Trump thinks of vitiating the alliance as a goal, not a concession! https://t.co/lSnIR0lX6F
Just one day earlier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was clear how important the "verification" part was to U.S. interests.
"The 'V' matters. We are going to ensure that we set up a system sufficiently robust that we're able to verify these outcomes," Pompeo told reporters in Singapore on Monday. "It's only once the 'V' happens that we'll proceed apace."
Tuesday's statement did not contain the word "verification."
Another complaint from critics was that the document did nothing to clear up the different definitions of "denuclearization" used by the U.S. and North Korea.
The North sees denuclearization as a two-way street: The U.S. might have to remove the so-called nuclear umbrella over its Asian allies, and with it the ability to protect countries like Japan and South Korea with the option of a retaliatory or preemptive strike.
Although many experts were unhappy with the specifics, few denied the historic significance of two traditional foes sitting down together — exchanging pleasantries rather than threats of annihilation.
Although shaking hands with one of the worlds most repressive dictators may be unpalatable, it arguably places the world in less danger than talk of "nuclear buttons" on social media.
"What this [agreement] does is encourages Kim Jong Un in his readiness to come out into the world for dialogue and making peace," wrote John Delury, a professor at South Korea's Yonsei University.