All Eyes on Singapore as Trump, Kim Prepare For Tuesday’s Unprecendented Summit

By Patrick Goodenough | June 10, 2018 | 7:28pm EDT
President Trump arrives at Singapore's Paya Lebar military airbase on Sunday night local time. (Screen capture: YouTube)

( – President Trump has a relatively quiet day scheduled in Singapore Monday, following the weekend’s fractious G7 gathering in Canada and ahead of Tuesday’s historic summit with Kim Jong Un.

The president’s program includes a one-on-one meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong followed by an expanded working lunch, and then a meet-and-greet at the U.S. Embassy in the afternoon. The White House has yet to announce anything beyond the embassy visit.

Air Force One landed at a military airbase on Sunday night, about five hours after the Chinese aircraft carrying the North Koreans arrived at Changi international airport several miles away.

This is the furthest Kim Jong Un has traveled since taking power on this death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011. The North Korean dictator is not known to have left his country apart from two recent trips to China. He briefly stepped across the demarcation line dividing the two Koreas during his late April summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Kim Jong Un’s St. Regis hotel in downtown Singapore is just a few minutes’ walk from the Shangri La hotel, where Trump is staying.

The North Korean delegation includes the foreign and defense ministers, Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, and his right-hand man Gen. Kim Yong-chol – who earlier held preparatory talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York and delivered a personal letter from Kim to Trump at the White House.

Trump’s delegation includes Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly, and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

(Bolton’s presence is noteworthy. He recently made headlines after comments about pursuing a “Libya model” for a nuclear deal with North Korea raised hackles in Pyongyang. Bolton was referring to the technicalities of Muammar Gaddafi’s relinquishing of WMD programs in 2003, but the North Koreans and others fixed instead on Gaddafi’s ultimate fate – death at the hands of Libyan rebels following NATO military intervention in 2011.

Bolton has a history with North Korea. As undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs during the George W. Bush administration, his criticism of Kim Jong Il in a 2003 speech prompted the regime to deride him as “human scum” and refuse to deal with him during six-party denuclearization talks.)

Kim Jong Un met with Lee on Sunday evening, and told the prime minister that “the entire world is watching the historic summit between the DPRK and the United States of America,” thanking him for his efforts in hosting the event.

Singapore has laid on intensive security measures, especially in the area surrounding the hotels and on Sentosa island, the island resort just five miles from Trump’s hotel, where the summit is to be held at the exclusive Capella Hotel.

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong meets with Kim Jong Un on Sunday night. This is the furthest Kim has traveled outside his reclusive country since becoming North Korean leader in 2011. (Photo: Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook)

Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency said in a bulletin Kim and Trump were meeting to discuss “wide-ranging and profound views” on the issues of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, “building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism” on the peninsula, and other issues of mutual concern.

The talks, it said, were being “held for the first time in history under the great attention and expectation of the whole world.”

For his part, Trump has expressed optimism and “a very positive spirit,” saying he expected to be able to judge “within the first minute” of meeting Kim whether he was serious.

“I think I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen,” he told reporters before leaving Canada on Saturday. “And if I think it won’t happen,” he added, “I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time.”

The host prime minister voiced caution about the expectations of the summit.

“I am hoping that it would lead to denuclearization eventually, which will be a long process,” Lee told reporters at an international media center, predicting “many twists and turns.”

“They have been at war for almost 70 years, the nuclear issue has been there for 25 years at least, since the early 1990s,” he said.

Citing broken agreements, distrust and misunderstanding, Lee added, “You cannot wipe that all away with one meeting. What you can hope to do is to start things moving in a positive direction and hope to build up progressively along the way.”

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