Thursday, 20 June, 2019

Trump, Kim Shake Hands As Historic US-North Korea Summit Begins

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un center walks in Marina Bay Singapore North Korean leader Kim Jong Un center walks in Marina Bay Singapore
Deanna Wagner | 14 June, 2018, 04:32

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met with former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il for two days in Pyongyang and the leaders produced an eight-point peace agreement.

One US official said the two sides were working to craft a joint US-North Korea "statement of understanding" that could be released after the talks. Only after that initial personal session will national security officials join the meeting.

Later in the morning, the meeting was expanded to include USA president's chief of staff, national security adviser and secretary of state - as well as members of the North Korean leader's entourage.

The KCNA also confirmed that he was guided by Singaporean officials, including its foreign minister.

On the summit, Trump tweeted just once, saying there was "excitement in the air". During his stroll, crowds yelled out Kim's name and jostled to take pictures, and the North Korean leader posed for a selfie with Singapore officials.

"I don't know if the highest-level dignitary is heading to Singapore via China, but security along the North Korea-China border has been a lot tighter since June 8", he said, referring to Kim Jong Un.

Pointing out that the Rodong Sinmun goes simultaneously out to the global and domestic audience, NK Pro analyst Fyodor Tertitskiy says that the article will send "quite a positive message because the North Korean leadership at least state they are prepared to learn from foreign nations' experience and that they are focused on achieving economic prosperity". Surrogates have been hitting television for weeks celebrating the very notion of a meeting between Trump and Kim as a foreign policy success, and Trump's campaign has documented the summit progress in weekly emails to supporters. The unlikely images of U.S. and North Korean counterparts engaging in friendly dialogue lent the day an air of unreality. The moniker "mafia state" is often applied to the country too, accurately capturing North Korea's status as the only known state sponsor of counterfeit US dollar bill and methamphetamine production.

For the first time since the division of the Korean Peninsula, the leaders of the two countries held a summit in June 2000.

Within North Korea, the summit is likely to go down well.

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He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis should oppose the one-on-one meeting "in writing".

North Korea has repeatedly expressed a commitment to the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" - notably in a report by state agency KCNA on the eve of the summit - but the term is open to interpretation on both sides and it remains unclear what concessions Kim is prepared to offer.

"Without Otto, this would not have happened", Trump said.

North Korea is estimated to have up to 120,000 political prisoners in its sprawling gulag system.

The U.S. president did not smile but appeared relaxed.

Trump has enjoyed all the attention attached to his unprecedented sit-down with Kim, basking in suggestions that he might be a candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize.

North Korea, though, has shown little appetite for surrendering nuclear weapons it considers vital to the survival of Kim's dynastic rule. During the face-to-face talks, Trump said he had an "excellent relationship" with Kim.

Alluding to the North's concerns that giving up its nuclear weapons could surrender its primary deterrent to forced regime change, Pompeo told reporters that the US was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with "sufficient certainty" that denuclearization "is not something that ends badly for them".

Trump will meet Tuesday morning with Kim, with only translators present.

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