Summit is set: Trump-Kim to meet June 12 in Singapore

17-May-2018 Intellasia | Newsok | 6:00 AM Print This Post

President Donald Trump will meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, Trump announced Thursday, hours after suggesting that the release of three Americans held in the North heralded a potential breakthrough toward denuclearising the Korean Peninsula.

“We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!” Trump said in a tweet.

With the final details in place, Trump and Kim will meet in the first North Korea-US summit talks since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Kim has suspended nuclear and missile tests and put his nuclear programme up for negotiation, but questions remain about how serious his offer is and what disarmament steps he would willing to take.

Earlier Thursday, with the American former detainees by his side on a dark air base tarmac, Trump said during a made-for-TV ceremony that it was a “great honor” to welcome the men back to the US, but he added that “the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.”


Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, other top officials and first lady Melania joined the president in the celebration in the wee hours of Thursday morning at Joint Base Andrews near Washington. The former detainees Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim had been released Wednesday amid the warming of relations between longtime adversaries.

They appeared tired but in excellent spirits, flashing peace signs and waving their arms as they emerged from the aircraft. When asked by reporters how it felt to be home, one of the men answered through a translator, “It’s like a dream; we are very, very happy.” They later gave the president a round of applause.

Suggesting that recovery from their ordeals would take time, Pence recounted Thursday morning that Pompeo told him that at the refuelling stop in Anchorage, “one of the detainees asked to go outside the plane because he hadn’t seen daylight in a very long time.”

Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim for releasing the Americans and said he believes Kim wants to reach an agreement on denuclearisation at their upcoming summit. “I really think he wants to do something,” the president said.

Pence said Thursday on NBC News, “In this moment the regime in North Korea has been dealing, as far as we can see, in good faith.”

Singapore had emerged as the likely host of the summit after Trump yielded to the concerns of his aides and backed off his desire to hold the meeting at the inter-Korean demilitarised zone.

Located at the southern tip of Malaysia, Singapore is a regional hub in Southeast Asia whose free enterprise philosophy welcomes trading partners from everywhere. It has close diplomatic and defense ties with the US and yet is also familiar ground for North Korea, with which it established diplomatic relations in 1975.

A prosperous city state, Singapore has already hosted a historic meeting between two leaders burdened with a legacy of bad blood and mutual distrust. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s then-President Ma Ying-jeou came in 2015 to discuss cross-strait issues, the first such meeting since Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

In the US, shortly before 3 a.m. on Thursday, Trump and first lady boarded the medical plane on which the detainees had traveled and spent several minutes meeting with them privately. The group then emerged at top of the airplane stairway, where the men held up their arms in an exuberant display.

US service members on the tarmac burst into applause and cheers.

“This is a special night for these three really great people,” Trump told reporters. On the US relationship with North Korea, Trump declared, “We’re starting off on a new footing.”

The White House choreographed the arrival event, suspending a giant American flag between two firetrucks on the tarmac and inviting reporters to witness the return. The image-conscious president told reporters, “I think you probably broke the all-time-in-history television rating for 3 o’clock in the morning.”

The men were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, where they were to be evaluated and receive medical treatment before being reunited with their families.

The public display stood in stark contrast to the low-key, private reception that the State Department had envisioned, in keeping with a practice of trying to protect potentially traumatised victims from being thrust into the spotlight so soon after their ordeal.

Department officials took great pains on the prisoners’ release in North Korea, as well as on their flights to Japan and Alaska, to keep them sequestered not only from the two journalists travelling with Pompeo but also from staffers not immediately involved in their cases. The trio, along with medical personnel that included a psychiatrist, were cloistered in the middle of Pompeo’s plane in a small section of 12 business class-size seats cordoned off by curtains on both ends.

State Department officials refused to discuss anything but the most basic details of their conditions, citing privacy concerns in keeping with the minimal amount of information they had released since the men were imprisoned.



Category: Singapore

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