North Korea leader Kim arrives in Singapore ahead of Trump meeting

Ivan Schwartz
June 12, 2018

When Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un meet in Singapore to discuss the parameters of a deal that would potentially denuclearize North Korea this week, they will be joined by NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, for some weird reason.

Trump's one-on-one is scheduled to be followed by a broader meeting that will include national security adviser John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and chief of staff John Kelly.

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USA ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim led the USA delegation while Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui was part of North Korea's delegation. Trump left the summit early, and as he flew to Singapore, he tweeted that he was yanking the USA out of the group's traditional closing statement.

The White House says Trump will leave Singapore Tuesday, because the talks have "moved more quickly than expected". The city-state of 5.5 million serves as neutral turf for both sides, since it has security partnerships with the USA, a North Korean embassy and strong ties with China.

The president planned to stop in Guam and Hawaii on his way back to Washington.

Instead, he told reporters last weekend he would rely on "my touch, my feel" to assess the young and mercurial leader. "Well, I think that very quickly I'll know whether or not something good is going to happen", Trump added.

Mr Trump's first year in office was marked by bitter exchanges between himself and Mr Kim - as North Korea conducted several ballistic missile tests in defiance of the global community. Mr Kim is reported to be flying out even earlier, at 14:00 local time (6pm NZT). The deal letting Kim use it may have been negotiated during his recent visit to Dalian, China, to meet Communist leader Xi Jinping. Or, it could amount to little more than a much-photographed handshake. It seems highly unlikely that the north would be happy for the USA to maintain a defensive nuclear alliance with the south that is essentially directed against Pyongyang.

The summit won't be Trump's first foray into treating an established despot and human rights abuser like or perhaps better than the leader of an allied nation, though it is Twitter's first time treating such an event like a Game of Thrones season finale.

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As he was trying to build a bridge with Kim, he was smashing longtime alliances with Western allies with his abrasive performance at the G-7.

A United States official confirmed to CNN Trump's departure was moved up by more than 12 hours because Kim set his own departure for shortly after the summit, as first reported by Bloomberg.

The US was prepared to offer certainty to North Korea so they could be "comfortable that denuclearisation isn't something that ends badly for them".

He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing USA troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the context of the discussions was "radically different than ever before".

Pompeo did everything he could to avoid even saying the word Canada. The move was in reaction to North Korea's criticism of United States vice president Mike Pence's statement that the country could meet the same fate as Libya if it failed to meet a nuclear deal with the US.

Previous attempts to negotiate with Pyongyang have failed, but earlier this year North Korea demonstrated a new openness to diplomacy and held direct talks with Seoul.

He said previous American administrations have been fooled by North Korea but the Trump Administration has got experts on non-proliferation and Weapons of Mass Destruction on the ground to verify Pyongyang's willingness to denuclearise.

One US official said the two sides were working to craft a joint US-North Korea "statement of understanding" that could be released after the talks.

"It should go fairly well, but people should not expect so much for the first time", Rodman told reporters at the airport. "That's what I do".

Other reports by GizPress

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