A HAND­SHAKE MARKS HIS­TORIC U.S.-NORTH KOREA MO­MENT

First-ever meet­ing be­tween a sit­ting U.S. pres­i­dent and a North Korean leader takes place in Singapore

StarMetro Halifax - - WORLD -

SINGAPORE—WITH a hand­shake, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un kicked off a mo­men­tous sum­mit Tues­day, cre­at­ing an in­deli­ble im­age of two un­ortho­dox lead­ers as they be­gan a con­ver­sa­tion that could de­ter­mine his­toric peace or raise the spec­tre of a grow­ing nu­clear threat.

In the first meet­ing of a sit­ting U.S. pres­i­dent and a North Korean leader, Trump and Kim con­verged at a lux­ury re­sort on Singapore’s Sen­tosa Is­land, clasp­ing hands as they stood on a red car­pet in front of a back­drop of al­ter­nat­ing U.S. and North Korean flags.

Trump was first to ar­rive at the sum­mit site, fol­lowed by Kim, both ready­ing for the 9 a.m. meet­ing that cul­mi­nated dizzy­ing weeks of ne­go­ti­a­tions over lo­gis­tics and pol­icy.

Trump and Kim planned to meet one-on-one for most of an hour — joined only by trans­la­tors.

Then aides to each were to join for more dis­cus­sions and a work­ing lunch. But even be­fore they met, Trump an­nounced plans to leave early, rais­ing ques­tions about whether his as­pi­ra­tions for an am­bi­tious out­come had been scaled back.

Up early in Singapore, Trump tweeted with cau­tious op­ti­mism: “Meet­ings be­tween staffs and rep­re­sen­ta­tives are go­ing well and quickly ... but in the end, that doesn’t mat­ter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, un­like those of the past, can hap­pen!”

In the run-up to the talks, Trump had hope­fully pre­dicted the two men might strike a nu­clear deal or forge a for­mal end to the Korean War in the course of a sin­gle meet­ing or over sev­eral days.

But on the eve of the sum­mit, the White House un­ex­pect­edly an­nounced Trump would de­part Singapore by Tues­day evening, mean­ing his time with Kim would be fairly brief. And Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo sought to keep ex­pec­ta­tions for the sum­mit in check.

“We are hope­ful this sum­mit will have set the con­di­tions for fu­ture suc­cess­ful talks,” Pom­peo said, de­scrib­ing a far more mod­est goal than Trump had out­lined days ear­lier.

The sud­den change in sched­ule added to a dizzy­ing few days of for­eign pol­icy ac­tiv­ity for Trump, who shocked U.S. al­lies over the week­end when he used a meet­ing of the Group of Seven in­dus­tri­al­ized economies in Canada to alien­ate Amer­ica’s closest friends in the West.

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