Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

North Korea summit: Donald Trump to meet Singapore prime minister today

North Korea summit: Donald Trump to meet Singapore prime minister today

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore Sunday for a historic summit with President Donald Trump - and running alongside his motorcade were his detachment of bodyguards.

The top USA and North Korean negotiators held a last-ditch meeting in Singapore on Monday to try to narrow the gap between the two sides on what denuclearisation by North Korea should look like.

Word does get around, however, and the prospect of a meeting between Kim and Trump had already been on the public's radar. Trump travelled to Singapore from Canada, where he attended a meeting with other world leaders.

In the run-up to the talks, Trump had hopefully predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days. Kim thanked Singapore for organising the summit as if it was "their own family affair". And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to keep expectations for the summit in check.

As for Singapore, the White House said Trump was leaving early because negotiations had moved "more quickly than expected", but gave no details about any possible progress in preliminary talks.

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The president planned to stop in Guam and Hawaii on his way back to Washington. Traffic was held up in the steamy midday sun and scores of bystanders were penned in by police when Trump went to meet Lee. This area has been designated by Singaporean authorities as "special event areas".

Mr Trump, in his presidential state vehicle nicknamed The Beast, left the Shangri-La Hotel with his delegation at about 11.45am for the working lunch.

Kim arrived in Singapore on board an Air China 747 that, according to flight tracking website Flightradar24, took off from Pyongyang in the morning ostensibly bound for Beijing then changed its flight number in midair and headed south. As it happens, the North Korean and the American share a tendency to act unpredictably on the world stage. He has only publicly left his country three times since taking power after his father's death in late 2011 - traveling twice to China and once across his shared border with the South to the southern part of the Demilitarized Zone in recent summits with the leaders of China and South Korea, respectively. Or, it could amount to little more than a much-photographed handshake.

The previous USA 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".

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