Wednesday 14 November 2018

How the Trump-Kim summit eventually came together

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to depart for travel to Singapore from the Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to depart for travel to Singapore from the Canadian Forces Base Bagotville, Quebec, Canada, June 9, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday will kick off a potentially lengthy diplomatic process to try to resolve the standoff over Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Here is a look at how the diplomacy took shape this year:

January 1: After an unusually provocative 2017 during which North Korea tested a purported thermonuclear warhead and three intercontinental ballistic missiles, Mr Kim tries to initiate diplomacy in his annual new year's address. He calls for improved relations and engagement with South Korea, though adds that he has a nuclear button on his desk. Mr Trump responds on Twitter that he has a bigger and more powerful nuclear button, adding "and my Button works!"

January 9: North and South Korean officials meet at a border village and agree on North Korea sending athletes and delegates to the Winter Olympics in the South. Hundreds of North Koreans go to the Pyeongchang Games in February, including Mr Kim's sister, who conveys her brother's desire for an inter-Korean summit with South Korea's president.

March 5-6: South Korea's presidential national security director Chung Eui-yong visits Mr Kim in Pyongyang and reports that the North Korean leader is willing to discuss the fate of his nuclear arsenal with the United States.

March 8: South Korean envoys meet Mr Trump in Washington and deliver an invitation from Mr Kim to meet; Mr Trump accepts.

March 27: Mr Kim makes a surprise visit to Beijing for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in an apparent move to strengthen his leverage ahead of any talks with Mr Trump.

April 18: Mr Trump confirms that Mike Pompeo, then the CIA chief, had met Mr Kim secretly in North Korea and said "a good relationship was formed" heading into the anticipated summit.

April 21: North Korea says it has suspended nuclear and ICBM tests and plans to close its nuclear test site as part of a shift in its national focus to developing its economy. Mr Trump tweets: "This is very good news for North Korea and the World."

April 27: Mr Kim holds a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The leaders announce aspirational goals of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and permanent peace.

May 7: Mr Kim meets Mr Xi again in China and calls for stronger strategic co-operation between the traditional allies.

May 9: Mr Pompeo, now US secretary of state, makes another visit to Pyongyang to prepare for the planned Trump-Kim summit. North Korea releases three Americans who had been imprisoned.

May 10: Mr Trump announces he will meet with Mr Kim in Singapore on June 12. He tweets: "We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!"

May 12: North Korea says it will hold a ceremony to dismantle its nuclear test site between May 23-25.

May 16: North Korea abruptly cancels a high-level meeting with the South and threatens to cancel the summit with Mr Trump too in protest over US-South Korean military exercises and US comments that the North should follow the "Libya model" of denuclearisation by eliminating everything upfront. The North says it will not be unilaterally pressured into abandoning its nuclear programme.

May 22: Mr Trump and Mr Moon meet at the White House to discuss the Trump-Kim talks. The South Korean president says the "fate and the future of the Korean Peninsula hinge" on the meeting in Singapore.

May 24: A senior North Korean diplomat calls US Vice President Mike Pence a "political dummy" for his comments on the North and says it is up to the Americans whether they "meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at (a) nuclear-to-nuclear showdown". North Korea dismantles its nuclear testing ground in front of foreign journalists, but Mr Trump announces hours later that he is pulling out of the summit, citing the North's "tremendous anger and open hostility".

May 25: North Korea attempts damage control, saying it is still willing to hold talks with the United States "at any time, (in) any format". Mr Moon calls Mr Trump's move to cancel the summit "very perplexing" and says Washington and Pyongyang should get the talks back on track.

May 26: Mr Kim and Mr Moon meet at a border village in an effort to revive the summit with Mr Trump. Mr Moon says Mr Kim reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearise their peninsula but also said he was unsure whether he could trust the United States to provide a credible security guarantee in return.

May 30: North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol, the most senior North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years, arrives in New York for pre-summit negotiations with Mr Pompeo.

June 1: After meeting Kim Yong Chol at the White House, Mr Trump says his meeting with Kim Jong Un is back on for June 12.

June 5: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweets that the Trump-Kim meeting will be held at Singapore's Capella Hotel.

Press Association

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