Sunday 24 June 2018

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un meet at historic nuclear summit

U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during their first meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during their first meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk after lunch at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore
US President Donald Trump sits next to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before their bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore. Photo: Reuters
US President Donald Trump walks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore
U.S. President Donald Trump reaches to shake hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Photo: AP
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Photo: AP
A motorcade transporting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un drives towards the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island for his meeting with US President Donald Trump in Singapore
The motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with US President Donald Trump, in Singapore
The motorcade of US President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore
The motorcade of US President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shake hands ahead of their meeting at Capella Hotel in Singapore. Photo: AP
Official cameramen follow the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with US President Donald Trump, in Singapore
The motorcade of US President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands and smiled as they started a historic summit on Tuesday, just months after they traded insults and threats of nuclear war.

For both men, the summit, the first between leaders of North Korea and the United States, is likely to be a defining moment of their careers.

The meeting would have been unthinkable last year when tensions spiralled in the region over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes as it raced toward the goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States.

Trump vowed to prevent that happening and threatened North Korea with "fire and fury like the world has never seen". He mocked Kim as "little rocket man" on a suicide mission.

Kim denounced the US president as the "mentally deranged US dotard" who would be "tamed ... with fire".

But once North Korea conducted an underground test of a thermonuclear bomb last September, Trump began taking Kim more seriously.

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

Trump can look back to President Richard Nixon's 1972 trip to China, when the ardent anti-communist defied conventional wisdom to meet Chairman Mao Zedong, irrevocably shifting the Cold War balance and setting China on a path to opening up.

Trump and his senior officials have in recent weeks been referring to Kim as "Chairman".

For Trump, cutting a deal to end the North Korean nuclear threat with his approach to Kim, in defiance of the U.S. security establishment's long-held ways of dealing with the North, would be a success unmatched by any predecessors.

It would justify his supporters' faith in his art of deal-making and allow him to repudiate the naysayers with a foreign-policy success he will be able to hail. Some supporters have said he could win the Nobel Peace Prize.

People gather in the WABar to watch a broadcast on television as U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Korea Town section of Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
People gather in the WABar to watch a broadcast on television as U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Korea Town section of Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 11, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

For Kim, about half Trump's age and representing the third generation of North Korea's ruling dynasty, the summit affords both him and his long-isolated country the international legitimacy his father and grandfather could only dream of.

North Korea has faced years of economic sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes since it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006.

Official cameramen follow the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with US President Donald Trump, in Singapore
Official cameramen follow the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with US President Donald Trump, in Singapore

'TRUMP MODEL'

Trump and Kim could agree on a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War, the fire in which his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, forged the North Korean state. The war was concluded with a truce, not a peace treaty, but a treaty will also have to include China, which was party to the armistice.

The young Kim is reviled as an international pariah over the 2017 murder in Malaysia of his half-brother, and the execution of hundreds of officials, including his uncle, for suspected disloyalty.

But he will win legitimacy with the handshake.

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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A successful summit could also herald momentous changes in the security landscape of northeast Asia, in a similar way to how the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 changed Europe.

For China, peace on the Korean peninsula would benefit regional development, especially that of its northeastern rustbelt.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stand on a balcony on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stand on a balcony on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via AP)
U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via AP)

While China has broadly supported the summit, it will want to protect its interests. North Korea has always been a useful buffer between China and U.S. forces in South Korea.

Japan will also be watching with ambivalence - happy to see the sabre-rattling ending but worried its security might be sacrificed in Trump's rush to neutralise the North Korean threat to the United States.

Three weeks ago, the summit seemed doomed.

The motorcade of US President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore
The motorcade of US President Donald Trump travels towards Sentosa for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in Singapore

Trump said on May 24 he was scrapping it after threats by North Korea to pull out over what it saw as confrontational remarks by US officials demanding unilateral disarmament.

North Korea had earlier criticised U.S. national security adviser John Bolton, who had called for North Korea to quickly give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that would mirror Libya's abandonment of its programme for weapons of mass destruction.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed by NATO-backed militants in 2011 after halting his nascent nuclear programme and North Korea has long rejected any suggestion of a Libya model.

U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during their first meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un during their first meetings at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Trump later dismissed the Libya model. Instead his spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, spoke of "the President Trump model".

"He’s going to run this the way he sees fit," Sanders told Fox News.

Reuters

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