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
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.