Kim meets Singapore's PM ahead of historic summit

Arturo Kim
June 11, 2018

Ahead of his much-anticipated meeting with Kim Jong Un, U.S. President Donald Trump paid a courtesy call to their Singaporean host.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were preparing for their historic summit in Singapore as both sides tried to narrow differences before the two leaders come face to face on Tuesday.

A USA official said Monday that after a handshake scheduled for 9 am Tuesday, Trump and Kim will first meet one on one with translators in a session that could last up to two hours before they open the meeting to their respective advisers. USA officials were quoted as saying that the two leaders could spend the first two hours alone with translators but not advisors.

In a tweet on Monday, he said: "Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!" US ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim and North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui are expected to have a final coordination session, . following the six rounds of meetings they had in the inter-Korean village of Panmunjom to discuss the summit agenda. The nation also has repaired ties with China after a setback in late 2016, a shift reinforced by Lee's visit to Beijing in April.

In the lead up to the summit, North Korea rejected any unilateral nuclear disarmament, and KCNA's reference to denuclearisation of the peninsula has historically meant that Pyongyang wants the United States to remove its "nuclear umbrella" protecting South Korea and Japan.

The summit would discuss "building a permanent and durable peacekeeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula, the issue of realising denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" and other issues "as required by the changed era".

"The first minute I'll know - just my touch, my feel, that's what I do", Trump said over the weekend at the G-7 summit in Canada.

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Last year, the North made one of the biggest breakthroughs in its missile and nuclear weapons programs - which it says it needs to defend against the risk of a US invasion - when it announced that it had "completed" its state nuclear program after testing a missile capable of striking most, if not all, of the continental U.S.

Kim held a meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of the planned summit. After shaking hands with Singapore's foreign minister, Kim sped through the streets in a limousine, two large North Korean flags fluttering on the hood, surrounded by other black vehicles with tinted windows and bound for the luxurious and closely guarded St. Regis Hotel.

Past year the North carried out what was by far its most powerful nuclear test to date and launched a flurry of missiles - including two over Japan - while Trump threatened Pyongyang with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged US dotard".

Trump arrived on Air Force One at Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base at 8:21 p.m. local time, where he was greeted by Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sung Kim, the United States ambassador to the Philippines who has taken the lead on policy negotiations with the North, will hold a "working group" with a North Korean delegation to discuss final preparations for the meeting.

A screengrab from North Korean media showing Kim Jong Un's meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. The US president has also raised the possibility of further summits and an agreement ending the Korean War by replacing the armistice signed in 1953 with a peace treaty.

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