President Donald Trump said “excitement is in the air” in Singapore ahead of his meeting with Kim Jong Un. North Korean state media heralded the summit as “a changed era” for Washington and Pyongyang.
Preparations for the unprecedented meeting between North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and the president of the United States, Donald Trump, in Singapore began in earnest on Monday.
The event marks the first time a sitting US president meets a North Korean leader. It is also the first time Kim Jong Un has made a journey of this kind since taking office in 2011, aside from short visits to China and the South Korean side of the border Demilitarized Zone.
What we know so far:
- The summit will be held at the Capella hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, near the port of Singapore.
- Kim Jong Un’s delegation includes top officials such as Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Defense Minister No Kwang Chol and close aide Kim Yong Chol.
- Donald Trump’s delegation includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
- As a first order of business, officials from the US and North Korean delegation held a meeting early on Monday, led by Sung Kim, a former US ambassador to South Korea and the current ambassador to the Philippines.
- Trump has met for a working lunch with the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.
- Kim and Trump are set to meet in person on Tuesday at 9 a.m. Singapore time (0100 UTC).
- According to a US official who spoke anonymously to the AP news agency, Trump and Kim will meet one on one with translators in a session that could last up to two hours and will then bring their respective advisers into the meeting.
Read more: Is Trump’s Korea policy calculated chaos?
US: denuclearization key
The Trump administration is hoping that the summit will lead to an agreement on North Korea’s denuclearization in exchange for eased diplomatic and economic sanctions on Pyongyang.
Preparatory talks on Monday were progressing “rapidly,” according to Pompeo. At a news conference in Singapore he said the summit provided “an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity” to North Korea.
He stressed, however, that sanctions would remain in place and could even increase if “diplomacy does not move in the right direction.”
Crucially, he said the US was prepared to offer “unique” security guarantees but only in exchange for a “verifiable and irreversible” commitment to denuclearization.
Trump reiterated his optimism about Tuesday’s meeting at the lunch with Lee, telling the Singaporean leader, “we’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely.”
A ‘changed era’
The North Koreans noted that the summit was being held “under the great attention and expectation of the whole world,” according to the official report of the event by state broadcaster KCNA.
The state-run agency said that both leaders would exchange “wide-ranging and profound views” on establishing a new relationship, the issue of building a “permanent and durable peace mechanism” and realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
KCNA celebrated the momentous occasion, saying that the summit marked “a changed era.”
ng,jcg/amp (dpa, Reuters, AP)