Trump thinks summit will 'work out nicely'; meeting to begin with 1-on-1 session

Trump thinks summit will 'work out nicely'; meeting to begin with 1-on-1 session
PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were making last-minute preparations Monday on the eve of their historic summit, as officials scrambled to narrow yawning differences over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

Tuesday's meeting will be the first time a serving US president has sat down with the leader of North Korea, and comes just months after fears of conflict soared as the two traded personal insults and threats of war. "I just think it's going to work out very nicely," said Trump at a working lunch with the prime minister of Singapore, where the meeting is being held.

Behind the scenes, officials held talks for nearly three hours at a neutral hotel, seeking to bridge gaps over "denuclearisation", which means vastly different things to the two parties.

on Twitter

The diplomacy is an extraordinary turnaround from last year, when Trump threatened the North with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged US dotard".

The summit has also raised hopes of progress towards a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, the last festering legacy of the Cold War, after hostilities only stopped with an armistice.

The two men will first meet one-on-one in a closed session, before a larger meeting with key advisers, US officials said. A senior White House official said

Trump was "feeling good" and that the summit was open-ended. "It could be two days. They will talk for as long as they need to," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

Trump lands in Singapore for meeting with North Korea's Kim

  • Open gallery

    Donald Trump arrived in Singapore Sunday for an unprecedented summit, several hours after Kim Jong Un touched down.

  • Open gallery

    Trump landed in the evening after a long flight from Canada and the G7 meeting there, telling Singaporean officials who welcomed him that he was feeling “very good” about the summit.

  • Open gallery

    Trump insisted last week that the summit would “not be just a photo op”, saying it would help forge a “good relationship” that would lead to a “process” towards the “ultimate making of a deal”.

  • Open gallery

    But as he embarked for Singapore he changed his tune, calling it a “one-time shot” and adding he will know “within the first minute” whether an agreement will be possible.

  • Open gallery

    “If I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time,” he said.

  • Open gallery

    He has also dangled the prospect of Kim Jong Un visiting Washington if the meeting goes well.

  • Open gallery

    Trump flew into Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base aboard Air Force One, looking to strike a deal that will lead to the denuclearisation of one of America’s bitterest foes.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    After stepping down from Air Force One on a steamy tropical night, Trump was greeted by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Asked by a reporter how he felt about the summit, Trump said: “Very good”. He then got into his limousine for the drive to his hotel in central Singapore.

  • Open gallery

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

  • Open gallery

    The US president arrived in Singapore ahead of schedule after he left the G7 meeting in Canada early.

  • Open gallery

    En route to Singapore, Mr Trump had tweeted that the meeting here was a chance to achieve a"truly wonderful result for North Korea and the world”.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Trump waving to bystanders from his limousine.

  • Open gallery

    It is not immediately clear the size of Mr Trump’s travelling party although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser are expected to be involved in the summit. First Lady Melania Trump did not travel with Mr Trump.

  • Open gallery

    Ahead of his arrival, a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport plane had been spotted at the base.

  • Open gallery

    The massive transport plane has been known to carry the US president’s custom limousine nicknamed “The Beast”.

HOSTILE POLICY

Pyongyang is demanding as yet unspecified security guarantees and the end of what it calls a "hostile policy" towards it, and has not made clear what concessions it is offering over the nuclear arsenal it calls its "treasured sword" to defend against a US invasion.

Washington is demanding the North give up its weapons in complete, verifiable and irreversible way (CVID), while Pyongyang has so far only made public pledges of a commitment to the denuclearisation of the peninsula - a term open to wide interpretation.

The North, which has been subjected to increasingly strict sanctions by the UN Security Council and others, has made promises of change in the past, such as at the lengthy Six Party Talks process, only for the agreements to collapse later.

The US leader has whipsawed on expectations for the meeting, signalling that it could be the beginning of a "process" of several meetings, only to call it a "one-time shot" for peace as he embarked for Singapore.

Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un meet PM Lee Hsien Loong at Istana ahead of summit

  • Open gallery

    US President Donald Trump expressed his gratitude on Monday (June 11) to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for Singapore’s role in hosting the summit between the United States and North Korea, saying he appreciated the hospitality, professionalism and friendship.

  • Open gallery

    Mr Trump, in his presidential state car nicknamed The Beast, left the Shangri-La Hotel on Monday to meet PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana for the working lunch.

  • Open gallery

    The two leaders shared a warm handshake in front of cameras at 12.45pm before they sat down for the meeting.

  • Open gallery

    The Straits Times understands the lunch is being catered by Gordon Grill at Goodwood Park Hotel. Dishes on the menu include angus beef tenderloin and lobster bisque.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    He is expected to have a meet and greet session with US embassy staff after his engagement at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    During the meeting, the officials also celebrated Mr Trump's birthday. He is turning 72 on June 14.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    He was accompanied by a convoy of more than 30 vehicles.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Broad smiles and a firm handshake kicked off the first meeting between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday (June 10), as Singapore prepares to host a historic summit whose twists and turns have enraptured the world.

  • Open gallery

    The two leaders discussed relations between their countries, developments in North Korea and the region, including recent positive developments on the Korean peninsula, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

  • Open gallery

    “Prime Minister Lee complimented the bold and admirable decision by Chairman Kim and President of the United States Donald Trump to come together for this Summit,” it said.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un, gets in a vehicle, as she leaves for the Istana to meet with PM Lee.

  • Open gallery

    Arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's motorcade at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    Members of the public and tourists trying to get a glimpse of the arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's motorcade at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    Members of the public and tourists trying to get a glimpse of the arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's motorcade at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    Police salute as the vehicle carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves the Istana

  • Open gallery

    The vehicle carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves the Istana, after a meeting with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong,

He would know "within the first minute" whether an agreement would be possible, he added, as some analysts warned that it risks becoming more of a media circus than an occasion for substantial progress.

The previous US stance, said Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, was that "we don't deploy a president to negotiate a treaty, we deploy a president to sign a treaty where we know where every piece of punctuation is on that piece of paper". "One of my worries is that we come out of this

Singapore summit with something that looks remarkably like the Six Party Talks or anything that the president has previously criticised but it is hyped as something that's historic and new and groundbreaking," he added.

SEPARATE PLANES

Heavy security and armed police were in place at summit-related venues across the city-state. Outside the Istana, the presidential palace where Trump met Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, well-wishers displayed American flags and a boy held up a sign reading: "I love President Trump!"

on Facebook

#FBLIVE: PM Lee meeting with US President Donald J. Trump at the Istana today. This is Mr Trump’s first visit to...

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, 10 June 2018

The North's official KCNA news agency called the summit "historic", saying it would take place in a "changed era" and "under the great attention and expectation of the whole world". Kim would exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" on issues including "building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula" and "realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", it added.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Singapore for summit

  • Open gallery

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the first time on Sunday.

  • Open gallery

    The two leaders exchanged broad smiles and warm thank-yous when they met at the Istana.

  • Open gallery

    Kim thanked Singapore for hosting the historic summit between him and US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

  • Open gallery

    North Korea's capacity for distraction and sleight of hand was on show Sunday as leader Kim Jong Un flew to Singapore for his summit with US President Donald Trump.

  • Open gallery

    No fewer than three aircraft made their way to Singapore from Pyongyang airport, a facility that frequently sees fewer than three international flights a day. Instead, he flew on an Air China Boeing 747.

  • Open gallery

    In Singapore, its high-profile passenger was met by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with Kim, who wore a dark lapel-less suit.

  • Open gallery

    Kim was driven into the city-state in a convoy of more than 20 vehicles, including an ambulance, with North Korean television cameramen filming his progress through the sunroofs.

  • Open gallery

    Reporters and photographers packed the pavements outside the St Regis hotel where Kim was to stay. Covers had been hung over the driveway and hotel security brought out additional potted plants to obstruct the view of the lobby.

  • Open gallery

    Located just off Singapore's diplomatic district and a stone's throw away from the Orchard Road shopping belt, the modernist St Regis is tucked between an ageing building dotted with carpet shops and a sleepy high-end neighbourhood mall.

  • Open gallery

    On the 20th floor, the ostentatiously opulent 335-square metre Presidential Suite, where Kim was believed likely to stay, features a Marc Chagall artwork and a white baby grand piano.

  • Open gallery

    Its rooms are "lined with gold, and accented with precious metals like brass, onyx and silver", the hotel says on its website.

  • Open gallery

    It does not give prices but the list price of a similar facility in New York is $35,000 a night.

  • Open gallery

    Who will pick up the bill for the North Koreans' stay has been the subject of much speculation

  • Open gallery

    Pyongyang has a history of trying to have others pay for its travel -- Seoul paid for its delegates to this year's Winter Olympics in the South.

  • Open gallery

    But a Seoul presidential spokesman said it was "not considering it at all at the moment", while the US has insisted it will not foot the bill -- and is not asking anyone else to do so.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Sunday his government was spending around S$20 million to host the summit, around half of it on security.

  • Open gallery

    "It's a cost that we are willing to pay. It's our contribution to an international endeavour which is in our profound interests," he said.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    A North Korean cameraman is chased by media outside St Regis hotel, in Singapore

  • Open gallery

It formally referred to Trump by his full name in the Monday report, including his middle initial - the first time it has done so. A White House official described the North Korean reporting as "a sign for optimism".

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, devoted its first two pages and 16 photos to Kim's trip, including images of him boarding an Air China Boeing 747 for the journey.

His sister and close aide Kim Yo Jong is also in Singapore, and is believed to have travelled separately on the ageing Soviet-made Ilyushin-62 that is Kim's personal aircraft.

US presidents and vice-presidents generally never fly on the same aircraft to guarantee that one of them survives in the event of a disaster, and the move appeared designed to ensure the preservation of the Kim dynasty, which has ruled the North for three generations.

More about

Trump-Kim summit
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.