Trump, Kim con­verge on Sin­ga­pore ahead of high-stakes sum­mit

Manteca Bulletin - - Nation -

SIN­GA­PORE (AP) — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un con­verged on this island city-state Sun­day ahead of one of the most un­usual and highly an­tic­i­pated sum­mits in re­cent world his­tory, a sit-down meant to set­tle a stand­off over Py­ongyang’s nu­clear ar­se­nal.

Trump de­scended from Air Force One into the steamy Sin­ga­pore night, greet­ing of­fi­cials and declar­ing he felt “very good” be­fore be­ing whisked away to his ho­tel via a route lined with po­lice and photo-snap­ping on­look­ers. Trump trav­eled to Sin­ga­pore from Canada, where he a meet­ing with other world lead­ers.

Hours ear­lier, a jet car­ry­ing Kim landed. After shak­ing hands with Sin­ga­pore’s for­eign min­is­ter, Kim sped through the streets in a limou­sine, two large North Korean flags flut­ter­ing on the hood, sur­rounded by other black ve­hi­cles with tinted win­dows and bound for the lux­u­ri­ous and closely guarded St. Regis Ho­tel.

He and Trump are set to meet Tues­day morn­ing in the first sum­mit of its kind be­tween a leader of North Korea and a sit­ting U.S. pres­i­dent. The North has faced crip­pling diplo­matic and eco­nomic sanc­tions as it has ad­vanced de­vel­op­ment of its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grams.

Kim smiled broadly Sun­day evening as he met with Sin­ga­pore Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong.

“The en­tire world is watch­ing the his­toric sum­mit be­tween (North Korea) and the United States of Amer­ica, and thanks to your sin­cere ef­forts ... we were able to com­plete the prepa­ra­tions for the his­toric sum­mit,” Kim told Lee through an in­ter­preter. Trump is set to meet with Lee on Mon­day. Trump has said he hopes to make a legacy-defin­ing deal for the North to give up its nu­clear weapons, though he has re­cently sought to man­age ex­pec­ta­tions, say­ing more than one meet­ing may be nec­es­sary.

The North, ex­perts be­lieve, stands on the brink of be­ing able to tar­get the en­tire U.S. main­land with its nu­clear-armed mis­siles, and while there’s deep skep­ti­cism that Kim will quickly give up those hard-won nukes, there’s also some hope that diplo­macy can re­place the an­i­mos­ity be­tween the U.S. and the North.

U.S. and North Korean of­fi­cials are set to meet this morn­ing in Sin­ga­pore to make fi­nal prepa­ra­tions for Tues­day’s meet­ing. White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said Sung Kim, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines who has taken the lead on pol­icy ne­go­ti­a­tions with the North, will hold a “work­ing group” with a North Korean del­e­ga­tion.

The North Korean au­to­crat’s ev­ery move will be fol­lowed by 3,000 jour­nal­ists who have con­verged on Sin­ga­pore, and by gawk­ers around the world, up un­til he shakes hands with Trump on Tues­day. It’s a re­flec­tion of the in­tense global cu­rios­ity over Kim’s sud­den turn to diplo­macy in re­cent months after a slew of North Korean nu­clear and mis­sile tests last year raised se­ri­ous fears of war.

But it was only Mon­day morn­ing in North Korea that the govern­ment news agency re­ported that Kim was in Sin­ga­pore, had met with Prime Min­is­ter Lee Hsien Loong and would meet Trump on Tues­day. One dispatch by the Korean Cen­tral News Agency said North Korea and the U.S. would ex­change “wide-rang­ing and pro­found views” on es­tab­lish­ing new re­la­tions, build­ing a “per­ma­nent and durable peace-keep­ing mech­a­nism,” achiev­ing de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and “other is­sues of mu­tual con­cern, as re­quired by the changed era.”

Part of the in­ter­est in Tues­day’s sum­mit is sim­ply be­cause Kim has had lim­ited ap­pear­ances on the world stage. He has only pub­licly left his coun­try three times since tak­ing power after his fa­ther’s death in late 2011 — trav­el­ing twice to China and once across his shared bor­der with the South to the south­ern part of the De­mil­i­ta­rized Zone for re­cent sum­mits with the lead­ers of China and South Korea, re­spec­tively.

But it’s Kim’s pur­suit of nu­clear weapons that gives his meet­ing with Trump such high stakes. The meet­ing was ini­tially meant to rid North Korea of its nu­clear weapons, but the talks have been por­trayed by Trump in re­cent days more as a get-to-know-you ses­sion. Trump has also raised the pos­si­bil­ity of fur­ther sum­mits and an agree­ment end­ing the Korean War by re­plac­ing the armistice signed in 1953 with a peace treaty. China and South Korea would have to sign off on any le­gal treaty.

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