Wednesday, August 15, 2018 | ePaper

Kim, Trump in countdown to historic summit

  • Print


US President Donald Trump flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly attend a lunch with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and officials at the Istana in Singapore on Monday.

 AFP :
Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were making last-minute preparations Monday on the eve of their historic summit, as officials scrambled to narrow yawning differences over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.
Tuesday's meeting will be the first time a serving US president has sat down with the leader of North Korea, and comes just months after fears of conflict soared as the two traded personal insults and threats of war.
"I just think it's going to work out very nicely," said Trump at a working lunch with the prime minister of Singapore, where the meeting is being held. Behind the scenes, officials held talks for nearly three hours at a neutral hotel, seeking to bridge gaps over "denuclearisation", which means vastly different things to the two parties.
The diplomacy is an extraordinary turnaround from last year, when Trump threatened the North with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged US dotard".
The summit has also raised hopes of progress towards a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, the last festering legacy of the Cold War, after hostilities only stopped with an armistice.
The two men will first meet one-on-one in a closed session, before a larger meeting with key advisers, US officials said. A senior White House official said Trump was "feeling good" and that the summit was open-ended. "It could be two days. They will talk for as long as they need to," said the official, who asked to remain anonymous. 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 US invasion. Washington is demanding the North give up its weapons in complete, verifiable and irreversible way (CVID), while Pyongyang has so far only made public pledges of a commitment to the denuclearisation of the peninsula-a term open to wide interpretation.
The North, which has been subjected to increasingly strict sanctions by the UN Security Council and others, has made promises of change in the past, such as at the lengthy Six Party Talks process, only for the agreements to collapse later. The US leader has whipsawed on expectations for the meeting, signalling that it could be the beginning of a "process" of several meetings, only to call it a "one-time shot" for peace as he embarked for Singapore.
He would know "within the first minute" whether an agreement would be possible, he added, as some analysts warned that it risks becoming more of a media circus than an occasion for substantial progress.
The previous US stance, said Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, was that "we don't deploy a president to negotiate a treaty, we deploy a president to sign a treaty where we know where every piece of punctuation is on that piece of paper". "One of my worries is that we come out of this Singapore summit with something that looks remarkably like the Six Party Talks or anything that the president has previously criticised but it is hyped as something that's historic and new and groundbreaking," he added. Heavy security and armed police were in place at summit-related venues across the city-state.

 The North's official KCNA news agency called the summit "historic", saying it would take place in a "changed era" and "under the great attention and expectation of the whole world". Kim would exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" on issues including "building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula" and "realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", it added. It formally referred to Trump by his full name in the Monday report, including his middle initial-the first time it has done so. A White House official described the North Korean reporting as "a sign for optimism". The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, devoted its first two pages and 16 photos to Kim's trip, including images of him boarding an Air China Boeing 747 for the journey. His sister and close aide Kim Yo Jong is also in Singapore, and is believed to have travelled separately on the ageing Soviet-made Ilyushin-62 that is Kim's personal aircraft.
US presidents and vice-presidents generally never fly on the same aircraft to guarantee that one of them survives in the event of a disaster, and the move appeared designed to ensure the preservation of the Kim dynasty, which has ruled the North for three generations.

More News For this Category

Omarosa's White House recordings fuel Trump woes

Omarosa's White House recordings fuel Trump woes

AFP, Washington :President Donald Trump on Monday plunged himself into a made-for-TV spat with his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman - a mud-slinging match that has fuelled fears of

US offers military funding to Sri Lanka, as China vies for influence

US offers military funding to Sri Lanka, as China vies for influence

AFP, Colombo :The United States announced Monday it would grant Sri Lanka $39 million to boost maritime security as China develops its strategic hold on the Indian Ocean island.The

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen makes rare US speech

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen makes rare US speech

AFP, Los Angeles :Taiwan's president has given a speech in the United States - the first time in 15 years that a leader of the island has spoken publicly

New Caledonia protects huge swathe of coral reefs

New Caledonia protects huge swathe of coral reefs

AFP, Noumea :New Caledonia agreed Tuesday to tougher protections around a huge swathe of some of the world's last near-pristine coral reefs, in a move conservationists hailed as a

News In Brief

40 children killed in Yemen bus strikeAFP, SanaaForty children were among 51 people killed in a Saudi-led coalition air strike on a bus in rebel-held northern Yemen, the Red

Trump administration pressures judges to speed deportations

Trump administration pressures judges to speed deportations

AFP, Los Angeles :US immigration judges say they are under increasing pressure from President Donald Trump's administration to speed up immigrant deportations - or risk removal if they delay.This

69 including children killed in arms depot blast in Syria's Idlib

69 including children killed in arms depot blast in Syria's Idlib

AFP, Sarmada :An explosion at a weapons depot that toppled buildings in a rebel-held town of northwest Syria killed at least 69 civilians including a dozen children Sunday, a

Two Koreas agree to hold September summit in Pyongyang

Two Koreas agree to hold September summit in Pyongyang

AFP, Seoul :North and South Korea agreed Monday to hold a summit in Pyongyang in September, the South's Yonhap news agency reported following high-level talks in the Demilitarized Zone

Iran unveils next generation missile

Iran unveils next generation missile

AFP, Tehran :Iran's defence minister unveiled the next generation of Tehran's Fateh Mobin short-range ballistic missile on Monday, according to conservative news agency Tasnim."As promised to our dear people,

News In Brief

36 dead, 98 missing as dam collapse in LaosXinhua, VientianeLao military personnel and a rescue team from Singapore are continuing the search for the 98 people still missing in