Guam’s Governor to Trump: Summit With Kim Brought ‘Big Sigh of Relief’ for Territory’s 165,000 People

By Patrick Goodenough | June 12, 2018 | 7:27 PM EDT

Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo meets with President Trump on Air Force One during a refueling stop at Andersen Air Force Base early on Wednesday morning local time. (Photo: Calvo/Facebook)

( – On his way home from his summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore, President Trump met briefly during an early morning refueling stopover with the governor of Guam, the U.S. Pacific island territory which Kim last year threatened to target with ballistic missiles.

Gov. Eddie Calvo said afterwards he told Trump the territory’s people had reacted to the summit with “a big sigh of relief.”

According to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, Calvo had a short meeting with Trump in his cabin on Air Force One, thanked him on behalf of the people of Guam, and gave him a religious memento.

“Thanks for stopping by President Trump!” Calvo later tweeted. “God bless you as you continue your work to bring peace to the Asia Pacific region. I hope the First Lady likes the scapular. Safe travels as you make your way back home!”

Guam has a population of around 165,000 people, some 6,000 of whom are military personnel. The island, which is about three times the size of the District of Columbia, is home to two strategic military bases – the Andersen Air Force base, where Air Force One landed, and Naval Base Guam.

Last summer the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang threatened to target “areas around Guam” with ballistic missiles in order to “neutralize” what it called a U.S. military threat.

At a time of heightened tensions over its nuclear and missile programs, the regime was angered by the deployment of Guam-based supersonic bombers for combined exercises over the peninsula with South Korean warplanes.

Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bomber flew from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, to Japanese and South Korean airspace on August 7, 2017. They were joined by fighter jets from the two allies. (Photo: courtesy U.S. Pacific Command)

On those missions, U.S. Air Force B1-B Lancers flew over South Korea with allied aircraft, and also passed through Japanese airspace where they were joined by Japanese fighter jets, in a show of support for the other U.S. treaty ally in the region within North Korean missile range.

U.S. Pacific Command called the exercise “part of the continuing demonstration of ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies” in the face of North Korean provocations.

Despite the threats and invective directed at what the regime called “the air pirates of Guam,” the deployments continued into the fall. In late September Lancer bombers from Guam, escorted by Japanese fighters, flew off North Korea’s east coast, pushing further north of the 38th parallel than on any previous occasion this century, according to the Pentagon.

But after his summit Tuesday with Kim, Trump told a press conference the U.S. will stop “war games” – joint exercises with the South Koreans – “unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should.”

He called the maneuvers both “tremendously expensive” and “provocative,” and referred specifically to the cost of flying bombers from Guam to the Korean peninsula.

“Six and a half hours – that’s a long time for these big massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practice and then drop bombs all over the place, and then go back to Guam,” he said.

“Under the circumstances that we are negotiating a very comprehensive, complete [denuclearization] deal, I think it’s inappropriate to be having war games,” Trump said.

After Calvo’s meeting with Trump, Guam’s KUAM broadcaster quoted the governor as describing the president as “a very down to earth straight up kind of fellow unlike the folks in Washington DC.”

One of questions Trump had asked him, Calvo said, was for the reaction of Guam’s people to the summit in Singapore.

“I said there are about 165,000 people that have taken a big sigh of relief,” he said.

“I told him it’s nothing short of a miracle that ten months ago there was the leader of North Korea that was making pronouncements of a nuclear annihilation of our island. Now, we have ten months later and a document signed by both paving the way for peace and denuclearization.”

Of Trump, he added, “everyone thought he was a war monger but here’s a president that’s done something historic.”

In a statement, Calvo said the people of Guam know war, recalling the island’s suffering and loss during World War II.

“We’ve experienced war. In 2013 and again last year, we were the target of missile threats. Today, the promise of peace in the region draws closer, and we can breathe easier.”

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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