Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Kim thanks S'pore for 'sincere efforts' to host summit

NKorean leader Kim arrives in Singapore for historic summit with Trump Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump in Singapore for historic summit
Ginger Lawrence | 11 June, 2018, 14:59

US President Donald Trump arrived in Singapore on Sunday ahead of a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the future of Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

News that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited North Korea was front page news with a big photo of him shaking Kim's hand the following day in the ruling party newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun.

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 U.S. invasion.

Kim's main concern is the survival of his own regime - South Korean President Moon Jae-in told reporters that the Pyongyang leader had "concerns on whether he could trust that the U.S. would end its hostile policy and guarantee the security of his regime when the North denuclearises itself". The meeting was briefly canceled by Trump.

But the president insisted the United States was leaving no stone unturned in its preparations, while warning that patience was needed.

But if they don't, we'll know who to blame: not Trump's lack of preparation, but our neighbor to the north.

As Trump and Lee sat down for a working lunch at the Istana house, Trump sounded optimistic, telling Lee, "we've got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely".

The commemorative coin issued ahead of the US-North Korea Summit.

Kim was accompanied at the meeting by vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) Kim Yong Chol, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the WPK Ri Su Yong, and Colonel General No Kwang Chol - one of the three promoted in a recent North Korean military shakeup.

The meeting lasted more than two hours and took place at the Ritz Carlton.

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Siegfried Hecker, a noted U.S. nuclear expert, said the immediate CVID of the North was "unimaginable" and "tantamount to a North Korean surrender scenario".

Kim's summit with Trump has captured intense global attention after a turn to diplomacy in recent months after serious fears of war previous year amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

But he has since lowered expectations, backing away from an original demand for North Korea's swift denuclearization.

However, he played down the possibility of a quick breakthrough and said the summit should set the framework for "the hard work that will follow", insisting that North Korea had to move toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.

And faced with a choice between tarnishing his deal-maker credentials and throwing an ally under the bus, Trump's choice was never in doubt.

But even the merit of the event itself - long sought by the North, and which Trump apparently impulsively agreed to in March, reportedly without consulting his advisers - has been called into question.

"The best possible outcome I see for this summit is a general outline of an agreement that identifies denuclearization as the end goal of a process to be determined", she said at a 38 North briefing.

"This is a leader who is really an unknown personality", Trump said.

Singapore is the Switzerland of Southeast Asia, wealthy and exclusive, a politically neutral small state surrounded by larger powers, writes Tom Benner.

Authorities imposed tight security around the summit venue and related luxury hotels - including installing extra pot plants outside Kim's expected accommodation to obstruct reporters' views.