Donald Trump optimistic ahead of historic summit with Kim Jong Un
The leaders of the United States and North Korea will meet face-to-face in Singapore on Tuesday.
US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are preparing for an unprecedented summit in Singapore that could define the fate of millions as well as their own political futures.
Mr Trump predicted a “nice” outcome to Tuesday’s talks, while Mr Kim spent the day out of view as both sides finalised their preparations.
Events will begin at 9am local time (2am BST) on Tuesday with a handshake between the two leaders before a one-on-one meeting, with only translators present for up to two hours before any advisers are admitted.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told reporters that ongoing talks between the two countries are advancing well, but stressed the meeting would be the beginning of a process that would “set the conditions for future talks”.
Mr Pompeo added that the US was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with “sufficient certainty” that denuclearisation “is not something that ends badly for them”.
He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula.
The summit will be the first between a North Korean leader and a sitting American president.
In Singapore, the island city-state hosting the summit, the sense of anticipation was palpable, with people lining spotless streets waving mobile phones as Mr Trump headed to meet Singapore’s prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.
As Mr Trump and Mr Lee sat down for a working lunch at the Istana house, the US leader sounded optimistic, telling his Singaporean counterpart: “We’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely.”
Mr Trump also called the leaders of South Korea and Japan in advance of the summit, Mr Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, US and North Korean officials huddled at the Ritz-Carlton hotel ahead of the sit-down aimed at resolving a stand-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.
A second round of meetings is planned for the afternoon as officials work to lay the groundwork for progress on Tuesday.
Delegates are outlining specific goals for what Mr Trump and Mr Kim should try to accomplish and multiple scenarios for how key issues can be resolved.
The meetings also served as an ice-breaker of sorts as the teams worked to get better acquainted after decades of minimal US-North Korean contact.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim arrived in Singapore on Sunday, both staying at luxurious and heavily guarded hotels less than half a mile apart, with Mr Trump at the Shangri-La Hotel and Mr Kim at the St Regis Hotel.
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 minimise expectations, saying additional meetings may be necessary.
The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
Experts believe the North is close to being able to target the entire US mainland with its nuclear-armed missiles, and while there’s deep scepticism that Kim will quickly give up those weapons, there is also some hope that diplomacy can replace the animosity between the US and the North.
Pyongyang has said it is willing to deal away its entire nuclear arsenal if the US provides it with reliable security assurances and other benefits.
But there are major doubts, given how hard it has been for Mr Kim to build his arsenal, with the weapons also seen as the major guarantee to his holding onto unchecked power.
Another possibility from the summit is a deal to end the Korean War, which North Korea has long demanded, presumably, in part, to get US troops off the Korean Peninsula and eventually pave the way for a North Korean-led unified Korea.
Thank you Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong! pic.twitter.com/8MMYGuOj8Q— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
Mr 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.