Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met and shared a historic handshake in Singapore on Tuesday morning, in a meeting representing the first between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. President.
The two met at 0900 local time at the Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
In comments to press as the summit began, Trump said he hopes for “tremendous success” for the meeting.
“We will have a terrific relationship, we have no doubt,” the President told the DPRK leader.
In response, Kim Jong Un said “The way we came here wasn’t an easy journey.”
“We have a past that drags us down and this practice have covered our ears and eyes, but I came here overcoming everything.”
The two then held a one on one bilateral meeting for 45 minutes, before participating in an expanded meeting for an hour and a half.
They will then convene for a working lunch, set to last from 1130 until 1600.
President Trump is then set to brief media, and it is unclear whether Kim Jong Un will join him – or what
The President left the Shangri-la hotel, where he has been staying for the past few days, around 0808 local time.
Kim Jong Un, who is staying at the St. Regis hotel just around the corner, departed just minutes later.
They then both arrived at the Capella around 0900 local time.
Hours before meeting with Kim, the President tweeted attacking critics of the summit.
“The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers,” he said. “We have our hostages, testing, research and all missle launches have stoped, and these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say!”
“We will be fine!”
Security has been tight around both locations and throughout the city over the past few days, with the numerous road blocks and security checkpoints expected to continue throughout Tuesday.
Kim Jong Un last night took a surprise tour of central Singapore with the country’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
In a front page report on the visit, North Korea’s ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun on Tuesday reported that Kim had said he “plans to learn much from [Singapore] and their amazing knowledge and experience.”
The two leaders arrived in Singapore on Sunday, with Kim Jong Un then holding a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
President Trump, in turn, met with Prime Minister Lee for a working lunch meeting on Monday.
U.S. and North Korean negotiators have for the last few days been holding several rounds of working-level meetings in the south east Asian city state, intended, in part, to iron out the details of Tuesday’s summit.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a Singapore press conference on Monday afternoon laid out the U.S. government’s position ahead of today’s meeting.
Speaking to press at the U.S. Television Pool press center in Singapore, Pompeo said the only deal the U.S. would accept would be one in which North Korea committed to complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization (CVID).
“Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction program,” he said. “If diplomacy does not move in the right direction – and we are hopeful it will continue to do so – those measures will increase.”
But Pompeo also offered an opening to the North Korean leader, saying that the U.S. was willing to offer the DPRK security assurances ahead of any denuclearization by Pyongyang.
The President was, in turn, open to expanding access to foreign investment and “other economic opportunities” for the DPRK “if they take the right steps,” he said.
Trump first agreed to meet Kim Jong Un in March, following a meeting with South Korean official who conveyed Kim Jong Un’s desire to meet the President.
The following months saw a historic third inter-Korean summit, as well as two meetings between Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping and two visit to North Korea by Secretary of State Pompeo.
Following months of speculation about the summit’s location – with Ulaan Batur and Panmunjom, among others, being touted as candidates – it was announced that it would take place on June 12 in Singapore.
The road to Tuesday’s summit was not smooth, however: Trump called it off in May following a series of provocative North Korean statements.
But the summit later appeared to be back on: a conciliatory North Korean statement was swiftly followed by a surprise second meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom.
And, following a visit to the White House by senior North Korean Kim Yong Chol, it was announced the summit was back on.
President Trump is set to leave Singapore at 1900 local time.
Featured image: Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES