Trump and Kim converge on Singapore for summit

Reuters
US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un converged on Singapore yesterday ahead of their highly anticipated summit this week.
Reuters

US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un converged on Singapore yesterday ahead of their highly anticipated summit this week.

Trump descended from Air Force One into the steamy tropical night, before he was whisked away to his hotel, driving along a route lined with police and photo snapping onlookers. He came from a divisive Group of Seven meeting in Canada with some of Washington’s closest allies that further strained global trade ties.

Trump was greeted by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. Asked by a reporter how he felt about the summit, Trump said: “Very good.”

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Kim landed in Singapore earlier yesterday.

When Trump and Kim meet tomorrow at Sentosa, a resort island off Singapore’s port with a Universal Studios theme park and man-made beaches, they will be making history.

Since the 1950-53 Korean War, leaders of the DPRK and the United States have never met previously — or even spoken on the telephone.

Kim arrived at Singapore’s Changi Airport and was also greeted by Balakrishnan.

Traveling with Kim were top officials including Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Kim Yong Chol, a close aide of Kim who has been instrumental in the diplomacy that culminated in tomorrow’s summit.

Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s younger sister, was also spotted in his delegation. She emerged as an influential figure in Pyongyang in February, when she led a DPRK delegation to the winter Olympics in South Korea.

Officials who arrived with Trump include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Trump, speaking in Canada on Saturday, said any agreement at the summit would be “spur of the moment,” underscoring the uncertain outcome of what he called a “mission of peace.”

He initially touted the potential for a grand bargain with the DPRK to rid itself of a nuclear missile program.

But he has since lowered expectations, saying the talks would be more about starting a relationship with Kim for a negotiating process that would take more than one summit.

Non-proliferation expert Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, said that to make the summit a success, Trump and Kim would need to agree on a framework for expert-level negotiations “to hammer out the details and time frame for specific action-for-action steps.”

Kim met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shortly after his arrival, driving from the St Regis Hotel where he is staying, through the famous Orchard Road shopping district, which was closed off for his tightly guarded motorcade.

Kim smiled broadly yesterday evening as he met Lee.

“The entire world is watching the historic summit between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States of America, and thanks to your sincere efforts ... we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit,” Kim told Lee through an interpreter.

In his first public comments since arriving, Kim said Singapore’s role would be recorded in history if the summit was a success.

Trump, who is staying in a separate hotel, the Shangri-La, is due to meet Lee today.

Believed to be 34, Kim is one of the youngest heads of state in the world.

For Trump, a successful summit will give him a win on the international stage. While foreign policy isn’t usually a major aspect of congressional elections, it is unclear if Trump’s focus on getting tough with trade partners and solving the Korean Peninsula issue will have some influence on voters in the mid-term polls in November.

The two leaders are to meet at 9am tomorrow at the Capella on Sentosa island, a refurbished British Army artillery mess that is one of Singapore’s most expensive hotels.


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