Donald Trump received Kim Jong Un's letter seeking second meet: White House

AFP
Tuesday, Sep 11, 2018
Photo: The Straits Times

WASHINGTON - United States President Donald Trump has received a "very positive" letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un seeking a follow-up meeting after their historic summit in Singapore, the White House said Monday (Sept 10).

"It was a very warm, very positive letter," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, adding that the message showed Pyongyang's "continued commitment to focus on denuclearisation" on the Korean Peninsula.

"The primary purpose of the letter was to schedule another meeting with the president, which we are open to and are already in the process of coordinating," she said at the first White House press briefing in nearly three weeks.

Sanders added that the letter was "further evidence of progress" in Washington's relationship with Pyongyang.

Trump and Kim held a historic summit in Singapore in June that raised prospects of a breakthrough on curtailing North Korea's nuclear programme.

Despite follow-on negotiations on denuclearizing the peninsula hitting a snag leading to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceling a planned trip to the North late last month, the new letter showed signs that the discussions remain alive after weeks of apparent deadlock.

"We think it's important and we're glad that we're making progress," Sanders said, adding that Trump deserves the "credit" for bringing the two parties to the table.

"At the end of the day, ultimately, it's always going to be best when you can have the two leaders sit down," she added.

Source : AFP, Reuters, The Straits Times

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un made history Tuesday, becoming the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet and shake hands, as they seek to end a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.

It was a meeting many would have thought unimaginable just months ago.

The two men strode toward each other and shared the momentous handshake beneath the white-washed walls of an upscale hotel in neutral Singapore, before sitting down for a half-day of meetings with major ramifications for the world.

Prior to the meeting held at Capella Hotel in Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, Trump had said that he would know "within the first minute", whether any agreement would be possible.

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Their handshake reportedly lasted for 12 long seconds (though still 7 seconds shorter than his memorable handshake with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe).

Trump also reached out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder.

According to a body language expert Karen Leong, the first 60 seconds showed both leaders seeking to take charge in their encounter. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both sought to project a sense of command. "Their handshake seems to be between peers," she said.

"Trump seemed to be very aware of this, that he needed to up the stakes and be seen that he is the leader."

Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room.

Trump did most of the talking, and Kim appeared to listen attentively, turning to him three times during their walk toward their meeting room.

The US President, who is more than twice Kim's age, then appeared to lead the way to the library where they held a one-on-one meeting, placing his hand on the North Korean leader's counterpart's back.

Kim also patted the US president' arm, in an attempt to show control over the encounter, said Leong.

The leaders appeared to share a few light-hearted moments as they walked down a corridor to the hotel's library.

However, Leong said both found it difficult to conceal their nervousness once they were seated, with Trump displaying a slanted smile, and fidgeting with his hands and Kim leaning and staring at the ground.

As they sat down for their one-on-one meeting, the US leader predicted a "terrific relationship" with Kim.

Mr Kim then said through a translator: “The way to come to here was not easy.The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward but we overcame all of them and we are here today.”

After their closed door one-on-one talks, the pair continued with explanded bilateral talks with their delegation. Trump was flanked by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton.

Sitting across the table from the US team were North Korean leader Kim, Kim Yong-chol, first vice department director of the ruling Workers’ Party’s central committee, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Ri Su-yong, Workers’ Party vice chairman on international affairs.

Thereafter, the two leaders attended a working lunch with their respective delegations at Capella Hotel.

On the lunch menu: Main courses include beef short rib confit, served with potato dauphinois and steamed broccoli; sweet and sour crispy pork and fried rice with an "XO" chilli sauce as well as a Korean dish called "daegu jorim", which is a soy braised cod fish with radish and Asian vegetables.

Post-lunch, Kim and Trump then went for a leisurely stroll around the hotel grounds.

He also said talks had gone "better than anybody could have expected", and indicated that they were heading for a "signing", but did not divulge any details of the agreement.

During their walk, Trump unexpectedly gave Kim a peek into his super limo, nicknamed "The Beast".

But they did not get to hop on to go for a joyride, as commentators had hoped.

The pair met to sign an agreement, details of which were not revealed during the signing. Trump said: "We're signing a very important document, pretty comprehensive document, and we've had a really great time together, a great relationship... More will be discussed at a press conference soon."

When asked what he learnt about Kim, Trump said that he is "a very talented man", and that "he loves his country very much".

Mr Trump also described Mr Kim as a "very worthy, very smart negotiator".

According to sources after the signing, the two leaders pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, while Washington committed to provide security guarantees for its old enemy.

The signatures of US President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. Trump said he expected the denuclearization process to start "very, very quickly".

Kim places a hand on Trump's back as they leave the room after the signing.

After the signing, the pair walked out for another round of photo-taking.

Reports say Mr Kim departed Singapore on a chartered Air China flight at 11.20pm and midnight on Tuesday, while Trump left on Air Force One earlier at 6.25pm.

At 4pm, Trump held a press conference on the summit outcome and details on the agreement signed.

"We signed a joint statement that is an unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of North Korea," he says.

The Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, provided the backdrop for the historic summit.

Trump's motorcade arriving at Sentosa on Tuesday (June 12) morning.

Setting the stage ready for the handshake that will be seen across the world.

The White House has pointed to a series of accomplishments in recent months, including a release of US hostages, the repatriation of war remains believed to be of US service members and a pause in North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, to suggest progress between the foes.

And on Sunday, North Korea refrained from displaying its intercontinental missiles - long a bone of contention in its nuclear tensions with Washington - in a massive parade through Pyongyang celebrating the country's 70th birthday.

'STILL WAITING'

The latest parade "for once was not about their nuclear arsenal," Sanders said.

Trump thanked Kim for the gesture, saying on Twitter: "This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea."

Sanders was asked whether the next Trump-Kim meeting would take place in Washington, but she demurred, saying, "we'll let you know when we have further details."

The letter's arrival was confirmed as Trump's top security advisor said the White House was looking to North Korea for next steps.

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"We're still waiting for them. The possibility of another meeting between the two presidents obviously exists," said National Security Advisor John Bolton.

"But President Trump can't make the North Koreans walk through the door he's holding open. They are the ones that have to take the steps to denuclearise. And that's what we are waiting for."

Bolton said in a speech to the Federalist Society that during the Singapore meeting with Trump in June, Kim committed to getting rid of his nuclear weapons, and later agreed with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that it could be done in one year.

After his speech, Bolton told reporters "it's entirely possible" for the two leaders to meet by year's end.

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