Wednesday 13 June 2018

Trump-Kim Singapore summit, 12 June 2018

United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hold historic talks in Singapore

First step on long road to peace

• US and North Korea to establish new relations
• Both will join efforts to build a lasting and stable peace on the Korean peninsula
• North Korea commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula
• US and North Korea commit to recovering remains of prisoners of war
By Rahul Pathak, Associate Editor, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

On Sentosa, an island named after peace, the United States and North Korea yesterday signed a deal that they said would defuse decades of hostility between the two countries.

Calling the meeting between their leaders "historic" and "epochal", the joint statement declared that North Korea was committed to complete denuclearisation of the peninsula, while the US would provide it with security guarantees.

The US will also suspend its war games with South Korea to soothe nerves in the North. It will reset ties with Pyongyang, and North Korea's leader will be invited to the White House at an appropriate time.

The build-up to the summit, and the pact it would produce, had been breathless. Thousands of media personnel had descended upon Singapore and people lined the streets early yesterday to catch a glimpse of the motorcades of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as they made their way from their downtown hotels to the venue.

Mr Trump further hyped hopes of a breakthrough when the two men took a stroll across the lawns of Capella hotel and he was asked about how the talks had gone.

"Better than anybody could have expected, top of the line, really good. We are going right now for a signing," he told reporters before the agreement was unveiled.

But the vague wording and lack of details left observers divided over the document's place in history.

Some - including several world leaders - said it was the first, meaningful step in a long journey that could eventually make the world a safer place.

Others were underwhelmed and said it left key issues unresolved, with neither a timetable for denuclearisation nor the insistence that it be verifiable and irreversible.

Mr Trump, who said he had not slept in 25 hours while the two camps negotiated, dismissed such scepticism.

"It is a great day in the history of the world," he told the media. Facing questions standing on his feet for more than an hour after Mr Kim's motorcade had driven off, he added: "Chairman Kim is leaving for North Korea and as soon as he is back, he is going to start a process to make people safe."

In the meantime, the sanctions that have crippled North Korea's economy would remain, he said.

Interspersing his answers with an acknowledgement of his own abilities and praise for the man he had negotiated with - for 45 minutes in person, two hours with their teams and then over a working lunch of prawn cocktail, Korean stuffed cucumber, beef short rib confit and sweet-and-sour pork - Mr Trump waved away the lack of details in the document.

He said North Korea's denuclearisation would still have to be complete, verifiable and irreversible - something that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said, a day earlier, was the minimum condition for a deal. "I wouldn't have signed any agreement if they did not agree to that."

Mr Trump said there had been no time to incorporate those clauses in the document. "I am only here for a day," he added.

Asked about a timeframe in which North Korea would dismantle its weapons, Mr Trump refused to pin down a date. "We will do it as fast as it can mechanically and physically be done," he said. "It could take a long time."

He also touched on details that did not find their way into the short, written agreement. He revealed that Mr Kim had promised to destroy a nuclear missile engine testing site.

"I got that after we signed the agreement. I said do me a favour. You have this missile engine testing site... I said can you close it up. He is going to close it up," said Mr Trump.

The US has decided to put on hold the war games it routinely conducts with South Korea - a development that took some observers by surprise.

"The military exercises that we conduct are tremendously expensive. Our bombers fly in all the way from Guam... It is a very provocative situation (for North Korea). We will also save a lot of money," he said.

The exercises that the US conducts with South Korea have been a sore point with the North, which says they threaten its security.

Yesterday, Mr Trump, who turns 72 tomorrow, was willing to see the point of view of the 34-year-old Chairman of North Korea's State Affairs Commission, whom he once dubbed "Rocket Man".

Saying that Mr Kim was committed to seeing his country become prosperous in return for giving up his nuclear arsenal, Mr Trump said: "He is very talented. They have never had a leader with the ability and confidence to get things done."

The endorsement came just seven hours after Mr Trump had first set eyes on Mr Kim.

The grounds of the Capella hotel were teeming with special agents - one American paired with one North Korean - when the two motorcades arrived in the morning. At 9.05am, the two leaders walked into the hotel courtyard from opposite sides of the colonnade and shook hands for exactly 12 seconds.

Mr Kim then spoke before a global audience for the first time beyond his backyard to say in Korean: "It wasn't easy to get here. We were held back by the past and blocked by old practices and prejudices. But we overcame all obstacles and here we are today."

The serious business of hammering out this agreement was conducted around a 79-year-old teak conference table once used by Singapore's chief justices which was even older than the Korean War between the two countries that broke out in 1950.

By 1.38pm, the document to cap the summit was ready for signing, Before that, a North Korean official wearing gloves appeared to clean and inspect the pen on Mr Kim's side of the table.

Mr Kim declared the agreement as a new beginning, saying the "world will see a major change".

Mr Trump said later that he had known immediately upon meeting Mr Kim that he was willing to make a deal. "My whole life has been about making deals, and I am great at it," he said.

Congratulating both men on their joint statement, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to them, saying: "It is a crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on the Korean peninsula."

Later, last evening, Mr Trump and Mr Kim boarded planes to their own countries for the next step on the long, sometimes rocky, road to peace.

Kim Jong Un gave unwavering commitment to denuclearisation, says Donald Trump
Kim Jong Un committed to dismantling nuclear arsenal quickly: Trump
US President focuses on broader outcomes like reset of ties, chance for North Korea to change path
By Jeremy Au Yong, Deputy News Editor, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

While the agreement signed yesterday was just the beginning of an arduous process, US President Donald Trump said he expected the denuclearisation process to proceed quickly and stressed that he trusted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's commitment to change.

Hours after concluding an unprecedented summit with a leader he had recently considered an adversary, Mr Trump the deal-maker turned into Mr Trump the salesman as he sought to make clear the merits of what he described as "honest, direct and productive" talks.

The American President was charming, restrained and even self-deprecating as he fielded questions for over an hour at a press conference at Capella Singapore hotel.

At one point, he pointedly refused to answer a question about what military options the United States has kept on the table in the event North Korea does not hold up its end of the bargain. " I don't want to talk... That is a tough thing to talk about because I don't want to be threatening," he said.

But perhaps a key message, on a day when many questions centred on what he got out of the deal, was that the US had not been short-changed.

He stressed, first of all, that apart from joint military exercises with South Korea he considered expensive anyway, he gave little else concrete to Pyongyang.

Sanctions, he said, would remain as long as North Korea's nuclear arsenal was operational.

"At a certain point, I actually look forward to taking them off. And they will come off when we know we are down the road," he said.

He also dismissed suggestions that granting a meeting to North Korea was in itself a gift to Mr Kim - on the argument that it gave the leader the legitimacy of being treated as an equal.

He said: "They got a meeting. But only a person that dislikes Donald Trump would say that I have agreed to make a big commitment."

He added: "What did they do to justify this meeting? Secured commitment for complete denuclearisation; that is the big thing. They secured the release of three American hostages. They already gave them to us two months ago. These people are now living happily back in their homes, with their families."

To that list of US takeaways, Mr Trump also added the agreement by North Korea to return remains of Americans killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War, the pledge to halt all missile and nuclear tests, as well as the destruction of a nuclear missile engine testing site.

He said: "I got that after we signed the agreement. I said, 'Do me a favour. You have got this missile engine testing site'... I said, 'Can you close it up?' He is going to close it up."

Then, when asked why the signed document made no mention of a key US demand that the denuclearisation be also verifiable and irreversible, Mr Trump said that came down to time. "There was no time. I am here one day. We are together for many hours intensively," he said, while making clear that the outcome will be achieved anyway.

"They blew up their sites. They blew up their testing site. But I will say, he knew, prior to coming - you know, this wasn't like a surprise. It wasn't like we have never discussed it. We discussed it."

He added: "We will be verifying. It will be verified... It is going to be achieved by having a lot of people there. "

But Mr Trump also said he was going into the deal with his eyes open, aware that the steps ahead were fraught.

He even joked that while he believed Mr Kim would fulfil his promises, he was prepared for the possibility that he might have misjudged his interlocutor.

"I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, 'Hey, I was wrong.' I don't know that I will ever admit that, but I will find some kind of an excuse," he said to laughter.

Specifics of the agreement and denuclearisation aside, he also continually sought to draw attention to the broader outcome of yesterday's summit: A reset of US-North Korea ties and an opportunity for the country to change its path.

"Our unprecedented meeting, the first between an American president and a leader of North Korea, proves that real change is indeed possible," he said.

He added: "It is a very great moment in the history of the world. And Chairman Kim is on his way back to North Korea. And I know for a fact, as soon as he arrives, he is going to start a process that is going to make a lot of people very happy and very safe."

The US leader also had some kinds words for Singapore and the resources it put into facilitating the summit. "We send our warmest wishes to every citizen of Singapore, who really made this visit so important and so pleasant, despite all of the work and all of the long hours," he said.

And in response to a question from The Straits Times, he added that Singapore helped achieve the positive outcome with North Korea: "Your Prime Minister was fantastic. We were with him yesterday... It was very welcoming... It probably made a difference, actually. It is a great place. Thank you very much."


North Korea TV Singapore summit broadcast hails Kim Jong Un as 'world leader'
The Straits Times, 15 Jun 2018

SEOUL • North Korean state television yesterday aired footage of Mr Kim Jong Un's historic summit with President Donald Trump in Singapore, with the report describing Mr Kim as a "prominent world leader" who is revered universally.

The 40-minute broadcast by Korean Central Television seized the chance to heap praise on the North Korean leader, showing footage of his night-time stroll on the Singapore waterfront and saying he was welcomed with "deep respect and boundless enthusiasm".

"The streets were crowded with well-wishers who were full of reverence for Chairman Kim, who has come to lead world politics with his extraordinary political acumen," the female voiceover said.

Mr Kim was "warmly welcomed" by crowds "wherever he appeared", according to the voiceover, as the footage cut to a scene of him strolling through Gardens by the Bay accompanied by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, as crowds strained to take pictures.

"The meeting of the century awaited by the whole world finally took place" on Tuesday, the voiceover said to shots of Mr Kim's motorcade en route to the summit. The footage showcased scenes spanning the hugely anticipated day, including Mr Kim and Mr Trump's first handshake in front of their national flags.

The broadcast also showed the pair sitting down for talks, sharing a working lunch, signing a joint statement and Mr Trump showing Mr Kim his armoured limousine, nicknamed "the Beast". "President Trump showed Chairman Kim his 'Beast' and expressed respect and endless admiration for Chairman Kim," it said.

The video ended with Mr Kim returning home to a red carpet hero's welcome, with honour guards and crowds of hysterical well-wishers. "The whole country heartily welcomed home the prominent world leader, revered by all the people under the heaven," it concluded.

The propaganda push not only signalled Mr Kim's new confidence on the world stage after a series of diplomatic wins, but it also conveyed a desire for greater openness and economic development.

"It is like openly declaring he is the leader of a normal state, and he has got the confidence to do so," said Dr Ahn Chan Il, who defected from North Korea in 1979 and is now head of the World Institute for North Korea Studies.

"It doesn't only herald Kim's decision to open up the economy, but also his determination that he, from now on, will let everyone know his whereabouts without feeling too worried of his safety."


What the declaration says
The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un conducted a comprehensive, in-depth and sincere exchange of opinions on the issues related to the establishment of new US-DPRK relations and the building of a lasting and robust peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Convinced that the establishment of new US-DPRK relations will contribute to the peace and prosperity of the Korean peninsula and of the world, and recognising that mutual confidence building can promote the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un state the following:

1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.

2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula.

3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains, including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Having acknowledged that the US-DPRK summit - the first in history - was an epochal event of great significance and overcoming decades of tensions and hostilities between the two countries and for the opening of a new future, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un commit to implement the stipulations in this joint statement fully and expeditiously.

The United States and the DPRK commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant high-level DPRK official, at the earliest possible date, to implement the outcomes of the US-DPRK summit.

President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have committed to cooperate for the development of new US-DPRK relations and for the promotion of peace, prosperity, and security of the Korean peninsula and of the world.

June 12, 2018 Sentosa Island Singapore

US-North Korea joint statement a crucial first move: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
He congratulates Trump and Kim on successful conclusion of historic summit
By Royston Sim, Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

The joint statement signed by United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday is a dramatic move forward and a crucial first move towards permanent peace on the Korean peninsula, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In letters to both leaders congratulating them on the "successful conclusion of a historic summit", Mr Lee said of the declaration: "It is a crucial first move in the long journey towards lasting peace and stability on a denuclearised Korean peninsula."

Mr Trump and Mr Kim, Chairman of North Korea's State Affairs Commission, had a one-on-one meeting at the Capella hotel in Singapore yesterday, followed by an extended bilateral summit. They then signed a statement capping their talks.

In it, Mr Trump "committed to provide security guarantees" to North Korea, and Mr Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", although no timeline was given.

Mr Lee said Singapore is honoured to have hosted the summit. "We join the international community in celebrating this outcome, and in wishing both the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) and the US success in implementing this agreement," he wrote.

He said he looked forward to welcoming Mr Trump again in November for his state visit, which will be in conjunction with the 6th Asean-US Summit and 13th East Asia Summit.

In his letter to Mr Kim, Mr Lee said he hoped the North Korean leader had enjoyed his stay in Singapore, including his walk at Marina Bay on Monday evening, and that he looked forward to meeting him again in the near future.

Mr Lee also thanked all public officers and national servicemen who worked on the summit. "You did an outstanding job," he wrote in a Facebook post. "Thanks also to Singaporeans for showing the world what we can do."

In separate posts yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen also thanked public servants for the part they played.

Mr Shanmugam said Muslim officers had to handle "the extraordinary demands of this summit while fasting. Extra difficult for them". He added: "Salute all our officers."

Noting Singapore Armed Forces troops and assets were loaded with live ammunition to deal with external threats, Dr Ng said: "The successful completion of this mission gives confidence that we can protect Singapore, even at short notice."

Over the past few days, Mr Lee also held bilateral meetings with both visiting leaders. On Sunday, he met Mr Kim for the first time.

In an interview with CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour that aired yesterday, Mr Lee gave his take on the 34-year-old leader, calling him "a confident, young leader".

Mr Lee also held a working lunch with Mr Trump, who arrived in Singapore fresh from a Group of Seven meeting in Canada where he clashed with America's traditional allies over issues such as trade.

Asked about the man he met, Mr Lee said: "He speaks his mind, he has his take - he has his very firmly held views on trade, on the way America is being taken advantage of, and the way he wants to make America great again."

On whether the US is indeed being taken advantage of, Mr Lee gave his perspective on the evolving global dynamics that have given rise to such sentiment. In the past, the US was generous in helping other countries so it could benefit from a stable and prosperous world, he noted.

But today, it has a much smaller share of the world economy. "So, some Americans are asking themselves: Do I still have to carry this burden for the world? Why can't I just calculate for myself?"

These are legitimate questions, he said. "But to abandon the whole system, and say... I want to win every single match but I really do not have the overall view of the global game... That is a very different kind of world which America will find themselves in, if it goes that way, over several terms of the presidency."

Kim Jong Un shown Hollywood-style video pitching possible future
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

As images from around the world - Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, the Colosseum in Rome and the Taj Mahal in India - flashed on the big screen, accompanied by dramatic narration and musical score, one could have mistaken it for a movie trailer.

"Two men, two leaders, one destiny," said the narrator as pictures of Mr Kim Jong Un and Mr Donald Trump emerged on the large screen in front of more than 200 members of the media.

The journalists were at a news conference held by the US President yesterday following his summit with the North Korean leader.

The four-minute clip, which journalists viewed before the conference, was shown to Mr Kim during the summit at Capella Singapore, said Mr Trump.

The Hollywood blockbuster-style video pitched a possible future to Mr Kim, one in which, according to the narrator, he could choose to "advance his country and be part of a new world" in a "meeting to remake history".

The video portrayed Mr Kim and Mr Trump as the main stars.

"I think he loved it," said Mr Trump, referring to Mr Kim, in response to questions about the video.

"I mean, that could very well be the future. And the other alternative is just not a very good alternative."

The video also referred to the historic April meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae In and Mr Kim in the demilitarised zone along their countries' common border.

"There can only be two results. One of moving back," said the narrator at one point, as the clip cut to ominous black-and-white footage of missiles being set off, ships at sea and a jet flying through the sky.

The narrator then continued: "Or one of moving forward. A new world can begin today. One of friendship, respect and goodwill."

The clip also contained shots of technological marvels like fast trains, research facilities and high-tech medical equipment. There was also footage of a basketball player executing a slam dunk, no doubt because Mr Kim is known to be an avid fan of the sport. The Singapore city skyline and a scene of Marina Bay Sands, which Mr Kim visited on Monday evening, appeared as well.

It ended with the narrator saying: "One moment, one choice, what if? The future remains to be written."

US to stop 'provocative' war games with South Korea: Trump
By Charissa Yong, Regional Correspondent, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

The United States will stop the "provocative" joint war games with South Korea, although it will not pull out any of its 32,000 troops stationed in the country for now, US President Donald Trump told a press conference yesterday after his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The unexpected announcement, which apparently caught both Seoul and US military forces in South Korea by surprise, was part of the security assurances that Mr Trump gave Mr Kim in exchange for promises of the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Mr Trump said: "We will stop the war games... unless and until we see the future negotiations are not going along like it should.

"We will be saving a tremendous amount of money. Plus, it is very provocative."

He later added: "We are negotiating a comprehensive and complete deal. It is inappropriate to have war games."

But the US President said his primary reason for pulling the plug on the joint exercises was that they were "tremendously expensive".

Bombers must be flown for over six hours from Guam to South Korea , he noted.

"That is a long time for these big, massive planes to be flying to South Korea to practise and drop bombs all over the place and go back to Guam. I know a lot about airplanes. Very expensive," he said.

"Number one, we save money. A lot. Number two, it is really something they very much appreciated."

Regional watchers note that if the US and North Korea make peace and the Korean War comes to a formal end, the US will have less of a reason to maintain its military presence in South Korea.

Yesterday, Mr Trump made clear that reducing US troops stationed in South Korea was not part of the equation for now, though he hoped that at some point it would be.

"I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. I would like to be able to bring them back home," he said.

Hours after the announcement, a US Forces in Korea spokesman said that they had not received any direction to cease joint military drills.

"We will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defence and/or Indo-Pacific Command," the spokesman said in a statement.

South Korea's Blue House presidential office likewise said that it needed to clarify Mr Trump's remarks.

"At this point, we need to find out the precise meaning or intentions of President Trump's remarks," said a spokesman.

Donald Trump's script for world peace in 7 scenes
Show begins with ceremonious handshake and ends with well-choreographed signing
By Tan Dawn Wei, Deputy Foreign Editor, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

If Mr Donald Trump's former long-running reality TV show The Apprentice was meant to showcase the real estate tycoon's business acumen, his latest blockbuster, set on the sunny shores of Sentosa, was surely the American President's ambitious attempt at brandishing his newly honed political chops.

He enlisted the North Koreans, specifically the most vilified villain on earth - a nuclear-testing-trigger-happy "Rocket Man" - to be his co-stars.

He exploited that storytelling device of contrast - impoverished, isolated East Asian nation versus the world's most powerful country; precocious youthful dictator versus savvy businessman-turned-president - to excellent effect.

And so, the curtain went up yesterday on the finale of this greatest show on earth. A select group of no more than 30 journalists, photographers and cameramen from the United States, North Korea and Singapore found themselves herded from one scene to another in a compact, highly controlled set (Capella Singapore hotel).

Seamlessly, a narrative unrolled, of two political foes from two corners of the world who buried their hatchet, averted a nuclear war and pledged to strive for world peace.


We were escorted to our positions in front of the heritage steps of a beautifully restored colonial bungalow that was the centrepiece of the luxury hotel. The red carpet had been laid. The flags of the two countries, six apiece, perfectly displayed. The verdant lawn immaculately pruned. We were strictly warned we could not go anywhere unaccompanied.

As we primed our cameras to capture a piece of history, the two once-bickering rivals emerged - in perfect synchronisation - from opposite doors to meet each other in the middle for a 12-second hand pump. The 71-year-old American President reassuringly patted his young counterpart Kim Jong Un on the arm, leading him down the colonnade to the library for their getting-to-know-you huddle.


We jostled and tried to stay close behind the two men, but were held back by aides and special agents from the US side who were mostly in control of the situation. In this room upstairs was another photo opportunity, with the two men now sitting down for a chat with just their interpreters.

"It is my honour. And we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt," said the President.

Another round of handshaking for the cameras and we were bundled out of the room and back into our pens downstairs. We had been told Mr Trump and Mr Kim will, after their bonding session, walk across the second-floor balcony to Cassia, Capella's elegant Cantonese restaurant that had been turned into a bilateral meeting space for the serious discussion. We waited.


The tete-a-tete took about 45 minutes, and we were once again prepped to take our spots for the pan across the balcony. The two men appeared, trailed by their interpreters. Mr Trump stopped near us to offer a wave. Mr Kim followed suit. "How is it going so far, sir?" asked one journalist. "Very good, very, very good, excellent relationship," said Mr Trump. They ignored a more sober question about whether Mr Kim will give up his nuclear weapons. Clearly, it wasn't time to give the plot away.


Mr Trump's press person gave the signal and the pack of journalists rushed for Cassia.

Upstairs, officials from both sides had already taken their places. The key prop for this scene: An 80-year-old teak table once used by chief justices at the Supreme Court. The US Embassy had borrowed it from the National Gallery Singapore for the occasion.

The two men talked about peace. Opening remarks over, we were shooed out and corralled into our well-guarded holding area. Attempts to veer away from these three rooms - one to hold the North Korean media, one for the American contingent and one for Singapore journalists - were met with stern warnings.


This backdrop was not scheduled as a photo opportunity originally, but officials decided to open it up to certain media outlets. Mr Trump once again acknowledged the cameras by asking, at the start of the meal: "Getting a good picture, everybody, so we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect."

The menu included prawn cocktail with avocado salad, beef short rib confit and sweet-and-sour crispy pork.


This was planned right from the start. The men would, at some point, stroll across the courtyard of the Capella, perhaps a much truncated version of the now-famous stroll Mr Kim took with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae In across Panmunjom's pedestrian bridge during their equally historic meeting in April.

As we once again angled for space at the end of the path, Mr Trump and Mr Kim emerged at the other end. They paused, as if to get ready for the cameras just around the corner. Mr Kim's sister Yo Jong dabbed her brother's forehead with a towel and the two men launched onto the path. With no interpreters with them, they walked and attempted a conversation.

As they came up to the pool of cameras, Mr Trump surprised the lot by teasing: "We are going now for a signing." Reporters were left wondering about the deal that could have been struck.


Within half an hour, journalists were whisked from their holding rooms into Cassia, where, in a rush up the stairs, an argument broke out between American and North Korean cameramen. Amid frayed nerves and some raised voices, photographers gathered in front of the table set up for the signing.

And just as ceremonious as the first scene was, the signing of an agreement where North Korea vows to rid itself of its nuclear arsenal - Mr Trump later holds up the document triumphantly - brought the curtain down on what will probably be remembered as one of the best choreographed, theatrical pieces made for prime-time TV all over the world.

Hot off North Korean state press: Coverage of Kim Jong Un's Singapore trip
The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

SEOUL • Just hours after Mr Kim Jong Un wrapped up a surprise evening sightseeing tour of Singapore on Monday, North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun crammed its front page with photos snapped of the reclusive leader.

The official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea featured 14 photos covering over half of the front page of its issue yesterday, showing Mr Kim jovially walking with Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and other Singaporean officials at Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands hotel.

The speed of the coverage in Rodong Sinmun and other state media like the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is unusual in a country where events are often reported a full day, if not longer, after they happen.

The sense of fun in the reporting also contrasts with the more sober way in which the North Korean media would usually handle an official trip. It appears to reflect a new confidence among officials in North Korea that the country has really been accepted onto the world stage.

North Korea's official media took a large number of reporters and camera operators to Singapore for the Kim trip, which began on Sunday, and they had access to various locations that was denied to media from elsewhere.

For previous trips by Mr Kim to China, state media had mostly reported the visits after Mr Kim had returned to Pyongyang. In the case of the inter-Korea summit on April 27, the coverage was largely delayed until early the next day.

KCNA reported Mr Kim as saying of the sightseeing tour that "Singapore is clean and beautiful, and every building is stylish as he heard of in the past, adding he is going to learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future".

On Monday, KCNA, Rodong Sinmun and state television used the same photographs of Mr Kim's arrival in Singapore and his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

At the truce village that divides the two Koreas, North Korean soldiers expressed enthusiasm for yesterday's Trump-Kim meeting.

"Our republic has been squeezed in between the great powers in the past... But today, we are showing our dignity as an independent nation in front of the whole world," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hwang Myong Jin.

But ordinary North Koreans are not confident improvement in US-North Korea relations will last long, defectors say. "They weren't too excited about the summit. North Korea had rice and medicine aid from the United States and other countries before, but that did not trickle down to ordinary people," said Ms Park Hyun Sook, a defector who spoke to relatives in the North by phone last Saturday.


Seoul upbeat despite unease over end of drills
By Chang May Choon, South Korea Correspondent In Seoul, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae In has hailed as a "great victory" the first summit between the United States and North Korea, praising their leaders' courage and determination in taking a "daring step towards change".

But there was some disquiet here, especially among analysts, over US President Donald Trump's decision to cancel joint war games with South Korea.

Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement in Singapore yesterday to commit to improving their bilateral ties and build a "lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean peninsula". North Korea also reiterated its commitment towards "complete denuclearisation" of the peninsula.

Mr Moon said the agreement would be "recorded as a historic event that has helped break down the last remaining Cold War legacy on Earth".

"Leaving dark days of war and conflict behind, we will write a new chapter of peace and cooperation," he was quoted as saying by the presidential office, the Blue House. "We will be there together with North Korea along the way."

Mr Moon also agreed with Mr Trump in a 20-minute phone call to work closely to "fully and swiftly" implement the US-North Korea agreement.

South Korea's Ministry of Defence, however, has said it would seek clarity on the "precise meaning or intention" of Mr Trump's remarks on the cancellation of what he described as "provocative and expensive" joint war games.

Sogang University's international relations professor Kim Jae Chun warned that Mr Moon may face criticism if the drills were cancelled before Pyongyang took any substantial step towards denuclearisation.

"At this stage, halting joint military exercises will do damage to our defence interests and send the wrong signal to North Korea. They may think they can elicit certain concessions while maintaining their core nuclear capability," Prof Kim told The Straits Times.

Dr Bong Young Shik of Yonsei University's Institute for North Korean Studies, however, argued that the cancellation was a "concrete sign" of the US ending what the North Koreans deemed to be a hostile policy towards the regime, and could be a "huge incentive" for Pyongyang to open up for reforms.

Experts say the cordial Trump-Kim summit will be a boost to Mr Moon's popularity just a day ahead of local elections today, and also gives him the mandate to push for more peace efforts and inter-Korea collaboration.

Dr Lee Seong Hyon, director of unification strategy at the Sejong Institute think-tank, told ST: "They agreed on denuclearisation in principle and there will be operational content to follow. Moon must have been relieved."

Some experts expected more details like a road map to denuclearisation, but Professor John Delury of Yonsei University said "even a general commitment essentially passes the bar".

"Even just an okay, so long as there is no meltdown here in the next 48 hours or on Twitter afterwards, President Moon can say that went well," he added.

Tokyo sees hope for closure on abduction issue
By Walter Sim, Japan Correspondent In Tokyo, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

Japan sees yesterday's historic summit as "a step towards a comprehensive settlement of issues", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

These include both denuclearisation and the longstanding abduction issue, which US President Donald Trump not only broached to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but also won a promise that it "will be worked on".

While Mr Abe conveyed his gratitude to Mr Trump, he added: "Ultimately, it is Japan's responsibility to negotiate directly on this."

This issue was not spelt out in the joint declaration issued at the close of the summit in Singapore. But Japanese analysts have seen the written commitment to recovering the remains of US prisoners of war and those missing in action in the Korean War as a step forward on human rights issues.

The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s remains a highly emotive issue for Japan. Tokyo says 12 victims are unaccounted for, but Pyongyang has long asserted that eight of them have died, while the other four never entered the country.

Dr Masashi Nishihara, president of Japan's Research Institute for Peace and Security, said Japan and North Korea - which do not have bilateral ties - should ride on the momentum to set up a committee so as to secure the eventual return of the abductees.

Kobe University political scientist Tosh Minohara, while noting Japan's hopes for a return of the victims, added that if Pyongyang were found to be telling the truth, Japan should get, along with their remains, "a full report of how these people were abducted, how they lived in North Korea... for there to be proper closure".

Several family members of the abductees have cheered the summit and called on Mr Abe to take concrete steps fast. Mr Shigeo Iizuka, 80, whose sister Yaeko Taguchi was abducted in 1978 at age 22, told public broadcaster NHK: "The question is how to proceed from now on, and I would like the Japanese government to think about concrete moves towards resolving (the matter) urgently."

Japan has made it a pre-condition that North Korea resolve the abduction issue and dismantle its nuclear stockpile and ballistic missiles of all ranges, for it to normalise relations and make reparations for having colonised the Korean peninsula.

Keio University political scientist Yasushi Watanabe said he was disappointed by the scant nature of the declaration as the way forward was not put in writing, though he added that the document was, in a sense, a pledge to keep talking.

Even then, Tokyo will be reassured by Mr Trump's pledge not to relax sanctions until concrete steps are taken towards denuclearisation. It has pointed to the North's history of reneging on promises. And so, experts see the continued sanctions campaign as potentially catalysing the process.

Dr Watanabe said: "It is good that dialogue will continue, but it cannot go on and on. Hopefully, by the end of the year, they can come up with a road map on how to achieve denuclearisation - and fast."

Beijing has much to be pleased about
By Goh Sui Noi, China Bureau Chief In Beijing, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

The joint statement signed by the United States and North Korea, in which Pyongyang agreed to work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, is an outcome that pleases the Chinese, although there may be concerns that there is no stipulation it will be verifiable and irreversible.

President Donald Trump's comments at his press conference that the US and South Korea would be stopping military exercises and that he might in time pull out the 32,000 US troops stationed in the South would be welcomed by the Chinese as this is in their security interests.

In return for denuclearisation, the US promised in the joint statement to provide security guarantees to North Korea.

The two sides also agreed to build a "lasting and robust peace regime" on the Korean peninsula.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a statement on its website yesterday, said China welcomed and supported the meeting's achievements.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier yesterday called for full denuclearisation and a peace mechanism for the Korean peninsula that addressed North Korea's "reasonable security concerns".

For China, denuclearisation and a peace process will bring stability and peace to its backyard, as it shares a border with North Korea.

"Denuclearisation is very beneficial to China," said Professor Su Hao of the China Foreign Affairs University. However, he added that China would be concerned that there was no mention of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation".

This meant the US could compromise and let North Korea have limited nuclear capability. This could pose a challenge to China. The US could use North Korea's nuclear issue to contain China, he said.

With their security interests at stake, the Chinese will watch closely the forthcoming steps.

The major issue for China, said Associate Professor Li Mingjiang of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, is whether it will be sidelined or ignored.

"China wants to play a significant role in the next steps", including discussions on denuclearisation and the peace process, he added.

Chinese analysts like Prof Su believe China, at the very least, will be at the table for the peace process. Noting that it is a signatory of the 1953 armistice, they say China must be included in the peace treaty to end the Korean War.

Prof Li believes that while the US and even South Korea may want to exclude China from the denuclearisation and peace talks, it is unlikely the North Koreans will take the risk of going along with them.

He believes the Chinese will pressure the North Koreans to speak on China's behalf in their interactions with the Americans and South Koreans, and insist that China play a role.

"It will be no surprise that China would send the same message to the Americans and South Koreans as well, that it has to be a major participant in the process of denuclearisation and peace building, and in the economic development of North Korea," he added.

One summit, many different views from across the globe
North Korea hails new era as US media ponders vague nature of agreement and world mulls over next moves
By Shefali Rekhi, The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2018

Two men met, and signed a joint declaration. But media perceptions of Tuesday's historic meeting differed significantly across the globe.

North Korea's state media heralded a new chapter in ties between Pyongyang and Washington.

American media outlets deliberated on the "vagueness" of the document signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

South Korea's leading news-papers played up a 40-minute phone call Mr Trump had with President Moon Jae In, but lamented the absence of a binding deal on denuclearisation.

"The sole goal of this summit was the dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons, and the key gauge would have been a commitment to doing it 'completely, verifiably and irreversibly' and a date to do it by - for example 2020, when Trump's term ends," the Chosun Ilbo said in an editorial.

"Instead, the agreement merely reaffirmed the terms of a joint declaration by Kim and President Moon Jae In after their summit in April, and only holds Kim to working 'towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula', which could mean anything," it noted.

In China, the state media hailed the agreement for lowering tensions on the Korean peninsula, while subtly celebrating the country's hidden hand in bringing the two erstwhile foes together.

Japan's media caught the change in American moral leadership as reflected by Mr Trump, and hoped Tokyo would not have to pay for Pyongyang's modernisation until the abduction issue was resolved.

Britain, meanwhile, prioritised discussions on Brexit, while Iran urged North Korea to be cautious.

Globally, many media branded the meeting on Sentosa as the "Trump-Kim Singapore summit", giving credit to the Republic as the summit venue.

The Financial Times said it showed the city-state's global ties, while Taiwan's China Times noted that the summit had "successfully lifted Singapore's global status at many levels, making it an ideal venue for hostile enemies to hold dialogue and break the ice".

As for the more than 2,000 journalists from overseas covering the summit, many wrote about the spread of food at the International Media Centre at the F1 Pit Building. On social media, they posted images of some of the summit memorabilia, including fans and water bottles designed and distributed by The Straits Times.

North Korean media played up the landmark summit, with the official KCNA news agency saying the meeting was "epoch-making" and would lead to a "radical switch-over" in relations between the US and North Korea.

Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, went big in its coverage, splashing 33 photographs over four of the six dedicated pages under the headline "Meeting of the century opens new history in DPRK-US relations". DPRK, or Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is the North's official name.

On Tuesday, Rodong Sinmun said Mr Kim, who is Chairman of North Korea's State Affairs Commission, wants to learn from Singapore's economic development. Its front page had a short story and over a dozen photos of Mr Kim's night stroll in Singapore. After taking in the downtown night view on the roof of Marina Bay Sands, Mr Kim reportedly said he "plans to learn much from (Singapore) and their amazing knowledge and experience", reported

Much of the focus of the traditional US media was on the joint declaration that was short on specifics. "The summit was unprecedented, the statement vague and the day historic," The New York Times reported.

There was also some grumbling on social media after ABC opted to break its telecast of its much followed The Bachelorette show to broadcast the summit. It had flown to Singapore its Good Morning America anchor George Stephanopoulos, who managed an exclusive with Mr Trump just after he signed the document with Mr Kim.

"If @ABCNetwork doesn't turn off this Trump and Kim Jong Un update and put The Bachelorette back on, I am going to be mildly upset for awhile," one Twitter user said.

Historic moment made in Singapore
Summit is key turning point in bid for peace, and testament to the Republic's neutrality
By Ravi Velloor, Associate Editor, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

There are events in every nation's life that will remain etched in history.

In the second half of the 20th century, the United States would count the Kennedy assassination, astronaut Neil Armstrong's moon landing, president Richard Nixon's historic handshake with chairman Mao Zedong, and the dramatic helicopter evacuation from the roof of the US Embassy in Saigon - which marked the humiliating end of the Vietnam War - as being among the most indelible moments.

For the first half of this century, we already are looking at two watershed moments: the 2008 election of Mr Barack Obama as the first black president of the US, and yesterday, the handshake between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Singapore hotel on Sentosa.

"We will have a terrific relationship," Mr Trump told Mr Kim after the Korean leader remarked that the road to the summit had not been easy.

Not surprisingly for a document crafted in such haste, the joint statement they signed listed four points. But they were broad-brushed and short on specifics. It committed both sides to establishing "new" relations - suggesting the US may open an embassy in Pyongyang - and spoke of efforts to build a lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, which is code for declaring a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice.

But there was no mention of a road map for North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation - something the US had said it would insist upon. If anything, by citing Mr Kim's "firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" - which has much wider implications and impacts the US military presence in South Korea - it seemed the North's formulation had been upheld.

There was also little by way of detail for the security guarantees held out by the US for Mr Kim, or specific mention of the fate of Japanese abductees in the North - a point of deep concern for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Mr Trump had promised to raise. The statement merely referred to the two being committed to recovering the remains of prisoners of war.

At a press conference later, Mr Trump did give some hints of those security guarantees. He said he was suspending war games with treaty ally South Korea, acknowledging that they were a "provocation" to the North and, hence, would not be resumed unless the North was seen to be backing off from yesterday's deal.

Ultimately, he suggested, the US might like to withdraw its 32,000 troops in the South.

"If, as indicated by Trump in the press briefing, the US and South Korea suspend scheduled joint military exercises, this would be a substantial concession to North Korea's security concerns," said Ms Alison Evans, deputy head of Asia-Pacific Country Risk at IHS Markit. "Follow-up negotiations are likely to include discussions of the 'security guarantees' that the US committed to provide."

Awareness that all this needs close and careful negotiation over weeks, if not months, probably explains why the two leaders decided to wrap up their talks in one morning. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a North Korean counterpart have been tasked to implement the accord "fully and expeditiously", and Mr Trump told the media the denuclearisation process would "begin very quickly".

These issues aside, the summit nevertheless is a key turning point. Made in Singapore, the meeting between the erstwhile sworn adversaries is testament to the neutrality Singapore practises, the inclusive Asian architecture it demands, and its unique standing not just in the fairways of commerce, but also in the flow of global conversation.

In the end, it was the personality of Mr Trump - a president who will not play by the rules set for him by institutional memory or codes of conduct - that made the breakthrough with Mr Kim possible, a development that may some day be labelled as the Pivot to Pyongyang.

Sceptics of the Trump-Kim meetings have accused him of "mirror-imaging" - believing that he knows what would work with Mr Kim based on a flawed notion that the North Korean leader is like him, or like the businessmen he has dealt with in his long career of deal-making.

To Mr Trump's credit, he pressed on, allowing his optimism to give peace a chance even as he couched it with warnings to Mr Kim that this was a "one-time shot" at seizing that opportunity.

The two leaders who met each other for the first time yesterday could not be more dissimilar.

One is tall, blond and two days short of turning 72. The other is short, squat, black-haired and less than half the age of the US leader. Mr Trump presides over a US$20 trillion (S$26.7 trillion) economy. North Korea's gross domestic product (GDP), the sum of economic activity of its 27 million people, is smaller than that of Vermont - which, with a population of 650,000 or less, is the weakest contributor to the US GDP among the 50 states.

Yet, Mr Kim, who arrived in an Air China Boeing 747 - rather like Mr Trump's Air Force One 747 - pulled off the supremely audacious feat of being treated as an equal to the world's most powerful leader.

To get an idea of how fast this summit was put together, you need only to rewind to March, when South Korea's national security adviser appeared in Washington with an urgent message to Mr Trump that Mr Kim wanted to meet him as soon as possible. Mr Trump, overruling the misgivings of many of his senior counsellors, smelt opportunity. He was ready to redeem his campaign promise that he would have "no problem" meeting face to face with the Korean leader. From there to the choice of the June 12 date and Singapore as venue, to the abrupt cancellation announced by Mr Trump and his rapid about-face after receiving a conciliatory note from Mr Kim, the Korean whirligig has been unceasing. Yet it is wise to temper the optimism for what lies ahead with plenty of caution.

This is not the first attempt to bring peace to the Korean peninsula, although never before has a serving US president sat down with a North Korean leader.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim - despite their vast powers over their people - have various constituencies to cater to. For the US leader, it is to convince a doubting Congress and partisan lawmakers that he is on the right path. There are also sceptics, like National Security Adviser John Bolton, in Mr Trump's team.

Likewise, it was not a surprise that Mr Kim, before emplaning for Singapore, shuffled his military brass to ensure minimum dissent over his decision to bargain with the nuclear deterrence it painstakingly built over decades.

Like the Iran nuclear deal that Mr Trump is reversing, this deal too will be buffeted by strong winds.

There are many in South Korea, Japan, China and Russia watching the developments too with more than a measure of nervousness.

But it will stand to the credit of both these men - often derided as mavericks - that they had the statesmanship to attempt to settle a nettlesome relationship and bring peace to a corner of Asia that has witnessed some of the most savage and cruel behaviour that man has imposed on man.

"Holding this summit at all is still a remarkable turn of events and has probably reinforced Trump's and Kim's personal commitment to the diplomatic path," said Mr Andrew Gilholm, director of North Asia analysis at Control Risks. "But the hardest steps lie ahead, and their commitment will be tested as contentious details have to be addressed, amid domestic pressure on both men to take a firm line."

Sentosa: Peace made on an island in the sun
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 13 Jun 2018

For decades, they stood silent sentry on Sentosa, the resort island with a bloodstained past that has today become a haven for holidaymakers and cartoon mascots.

But the 60 cannon at Fort Siloso, a coastal fort that was used during the Japanese Occupation as a camp for prisoners-of-war, have in recent days made a striking statement for peace.

From the muzzle of each weapon of war sprouts a bouquet of flowers - a riotous mix of lilies, gerberas and olives - in honour of a landmark summit on Sentosa that yesterday saw the unpredictable leaders of the United States and North Korea agree to work towards denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.

The joint declaration brings to an end the chapter on the path to peace that started in Singapore, with an unprecedented meeting that was scrapped and then resurrected after a volley of taunts and overtures between both sides.

It was at the five-star Capella hotel - where peacocks roam the grounds and the screams of thrill-seekers at the nearby Universal Studios Singapore theme park waft in and out of earshot - that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un first clasped hands, and discussed bringing to an end North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The Singapore summit is a study in defying expectations: A peace once thought impossible being pursued in a tiny nation deemed improbable, by two strong-willed leaders who just months ago traded verbal blows that ignited fears of war.

And Singapore, the stage for a turning point in history, has in the past few days been filled with a sense of wonder.

Plane enthusiasts - some from as far afield as Canada - mounted kerbside vigils for hours on Sunday, their cameras raised in salute to the sky for rare shots of Mr Trump's Air Force One and the Russian-made jets that would accompany Mr Kim's arrival.

Roads were closed, bringing traffic to a standstill, and people onto the asphalt.

Out they came, leaving their cars idling and motorcycles listing, to stand shoulder to shoulder to marvel at the motorcades ferrying Mr Kim and Mr Trump around.

A surreal stillness fell over even bustling Orchard Road, as crowds gathered around The St Regis Singapore and Shangri-La hotels, hoping to catch sight of the two leaders who were staying there.

When the fateful day of the summit arrived yesterday, some saw it as a final chance to be - in their own little ways - a part of history.

Housewife Jaime Tan, out on a morning jog, barrelled to a breathless stop at 7am among the army of reporters that had set up camp outside the Shangri-La Hotel.

"Is Donald Trump coming out soon?" asked the 39-year-old.

Told he was due to emerge in an hour for his 9am meeting with Mr Kim on Sentosa, she hunkered down for a last glimpse of him.

Exercise could wait. History would not.

"This is my last chance to see him - even just a look at his car is fine," said Ms Tan.

A quick stroll away, at St Regis hotel, dozens of onlookers peered over barricades, a family of South Korean expatriates - battery-operated fans in hand - breaking into excited murmurs as Mr Kim's motorcade whisked him past them.

The surreal handshake between Mr Kim and Mr Trump took place at 9.05am, in the courtyard of the Capella hotel, the flags of their countries a vibrant backdrop of red, white and blue.

Engineer Jayanthi Sethu, hemmed in by commuters on an MRT train, watched a live stream of the meeting on her smartphone.

"Who would have thought, after all the name calling, we would see them trying to work together instead?" said the 29-year-old. "I played the video again, twice. It just didn't feel real. And it happened here in Singapore, of all places."

As the pair had their tete-a-tete yesterday, they sat in Capella's library in the company of some of Singapore's greatest thinkers.

On the shelves behind them were Asian-themed curios and tomes, among them the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's One Man's View Of The World and Professor S. Jayakumar's Diplomacy: A Singapore Experience.

It was an apt arena for the 41-minute meeting, during which the two men spoke directly to each other, their exchange filtered only by interpreters - a feat of diplomacy and political theatre that set aside decades of historical acrimony.

As the American and North Korean delegations later conversed over dishes from East and West - Korean stuffed cucumbers, beef short-rib confit, mango kerabu salad - a steady trickle of passers-by orbited the hotel's perimeter hopefully.

They were tourists out to make memories, young families celebrating the school holidays and even a South Korean who claimed that her father had been kidnapped by the North.

Retired salesman Mohamad Yusof, 68, asked: "Are they out yet? Can we see them from here?"

He was out of luck.

As reporters and photographers sweated furiously over their equipment on the sidewalk, battling heat and humidity, security officers kept the crowd at bay.

But beyond the hotel, the world spun on.

Queues for rides at Universal Studios Singapore were long and winding. Beachgoers lazed in the sun and sand.

And at Fort Siloso, among cannon adorned with flowers, the Tan family struck a pose.

"Can you imagine? This is maybe the start of a new period of peace," said consultant Tan Ghim Wee, 45, as his two young daughters played a game of catch on the grounds that were once a fort but now house a military museum.

"And it was made here, in Singapore."

United States President Donald Trump thanks Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for Singapore's hospitality, thinks Trump-Kim summit will 'work out nicely'
By Tan Dawn Wei, Deputy Foreign Editor, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2018

United States President Donald Trump expressed his gratitude on Monday (June 11) to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for Singapore’s role in hosting the summit between the United States and North Korea, saying he appreciated the hospitality, professionalism and friendship.

"We have a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely. But we appreciate your hospitality and professionalism and your friendship. Thank you very much," President Trump told Mr Lee as they began their working lunch at the Istana.

The two leaders shared a warm handshake in front of cameras at 12.45pm before they sat down with their delegations.

Mr Lee and Mr Trump, who held a one-on-one meeting before the lunch, had a good discussion on a wide range of regional and global developments, according to Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

An MFA statement said: "Both leaders reaffirmed the excellent relations between Singapore and the US across the economic, defence, and security spheres.

"President Trump thanked Prime Minister Lee for Singapore’s hosting of the US-Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Summit. President Trump also expressed the US’ continued commitment to engage the region and his support for Singapore’s chairmanship of Asean."

Mr Trump also accepted Singapore President Halimah Yacob's invitation to make a state visit to Singapore in November 2018, in conjunction with the 6th Asean-US Summit and 13th East Asia Summit, said the MFA.

Mr Lee and Mr Trump last met in October 2017, during the Singapore leader's official working visit to Washington at Mr Trump’s invitation.

Mr Trump, in his presidential state car nicknamed The Beast, arrived at the Istana before noon.

He was accompanied by a convoy of more than 30 vehicles from Shangri-La Hotel, where he is staying. Journalists and cameramen had been standing by around the hotel and the Istana for Mr Trump since about 10.30am.

Mr Trump's delegation includes the following:

Ms Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, charge d'affaires of the US Embassy in Singapore; Mr Matthew Pottinger, senior director for Asian affairs of the US National Security Council (NSC); Mrs Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary; Mr John Bolton, US National Security Adviser; Mr Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State; Mr John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff; Mr Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the President for policy; Ms Mira Ricardel, Deputy National Security Adviser; Ms Sarah Tinsley, NSC senior director for strategic communications; Mr Peter Michael McKinley, US Ambassador to Brazil, and Ms Melissa Brown, Counsellor for Economic and Political Affairs at the US Embassy in Singapore.

Members of PM Lee's delegation include Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Communications and Information Minister S. Iswaran and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.

Mr Ong posted a Facebook photo of Mr Trump, Mr Pompeo and Mr Kelly at the lunch. A copy of the menu was spotted in the photo.

The Straits Times understands that the lunch was catered by Gordon Grill at Goodwood Park Hotel. Dishes on the menu include angus beef tenderloin, lobster bisque and cherry jubilee with clotted ice cream.

During the meeting, the officials also celebrated Mr Trump's birthday. He is turning 72 on June 14.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posted a photo of Mr Trump posing with the birthday cake. "Celebrating birthday, a bit early," he wrote.

The US delegation left the Istana shortly after 2pm.

Mr Pompeo, in a statement after the working lunch, said Mr Trump and the entire US team are looking forward to Tuesday's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"We have had substantive and detailed meetings to date, including this morning with the North Koreans. The President is well-prepared for tomorrow’s engagement with Chairman Kim. The US position remains clear and unchanged.”

Mr Trump held a meet-and-greet session at Shangri-la Hotel after his engagement at the Istana. At about 2.15pm, he gave a 20-minute speech to about 200 to 250 servicemen, embassy staff and Americans working here, thanking the embassy staff for their preparations for the summit, according to some attendees at the closed session.

Mr Trump also described the lunch with his Singapore hosts as positive, and told the crowd he looked forward to the summit on Tuesday.

Said Mr Liam Gimon, an American who worked in Singapore as a criminal intelligence officer at Interpol for the past two years: "The president was very thankful for all the preparations Americans in Singapore - especially the embassy staff - has been putting in. He said he was also confident about the Summit with North Korea."

Added Ms Kartika Johnson, 45, who attended the event as a relative of a US embassy staff: "He made us feel appreciated."

Mr Trump landed at Paya Lebar Air Base just the night before, after attending the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in Canada. He retracted his endorsement of the major economic powers' joint communique while on his way to Singapore.

Meanwhile, diplomats from the US and North Korea met behind closed doors at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore hotel, in a bid to narrow their differences ahead of the summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim on Tuesday morning.

Former US special representative for North Korea policy Sung Kim, who has been leading the US in talks with North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in the border truce village of Panmunjom since last month, is said to be continuing the discussions with his counterpart in Singapore.

Top of the agenda is Pyongyang's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation. Mr Kim is likely to ask for a security guarantee and the easing of sanctions in return, say analysts. A peace treaty ending the 1950-53 Korean War may also be on the table.

Before sitting down for talks on Tuesday, Mr Trump intends to meet one on one with Mr Kim, the White House said.

“We can expect a one-on-one at the beginning,” NSC spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters in Singapore on Monday.

Media reports earlier quoted sources as saying the two men will meet briefly, with just their interpreters but no aides in the room.

Mr Trump on Saturday said he believes he would know "within the first minute" of meeting Mr Kim if the North Korean leader is serious about surrendering his nuclear arsenal.

Top aides will join them for the formal talks later, and they will most likely include Mr Pompeo and Mr Bolton, as well as Mr Kim's sister, Ms Kim Yo Jong, and top aide and former spy chief Kim Yong Chol.

The summit is the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, and comes after a year of tension on the Korean peninsula stoked by Mr Kim's numerous missile tests and a "maximum pressure" campaign led by the US to curb Pyongyang.

Additional reporting by Arlina Arshad and Ng Jun Sen

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Singapore attractions on eve of Trump-Kim summit
From Gardens by the Bay to MBS, Kim Jong Un sees best of the city at night
By Kor Kian Beng, Deputy News Editor, The Straits Times, 12 Jun 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took time out from planning for a historic summit with United States President Donald Trump to take in some of Singapore's iconic sites yesterday evening.

Mr Kim, who has publicly left his country only three times since taking power after his father's death in late 2011 (twice to China and once to South Korea), gamely posed for selfies with Singapore politicians and smiled for the camera as he was taken on a whirlwind tour of the city. The two-hour jaunt took in some of its best-known sights such as Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort.

At around 9.10pm yesterday, his motorcade left The St Regis Singapore in the Tanglin area where his delegation is staying, before driving past the Raffles City area towards Marina Bay.

Mr Kim, who arrived in Singapore on Sunday ahead of his historic meeting with Mr Trump today on Sentosa, stopped by first at the Gardens by the Bay. The award-winning nature park features sights such as the Supertree Grove of 18 vertical gardens up to 50m tall, and two conservatories - the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest - that are among the world's largest.

His presence provided unexpected excitement to some visitors, such as chef Tiara Rodrigo, 20, and her friend Joash Corea, 19, who joined the media scrum to try and catch a glimpse of Mr Kim.

"He is staying at the hotel near my house, so it is funny that I would bump into him here, at such a touristy location, the night before the big meeting," said Ms Rodrigo.

Added Mr Corea, a bartender: "Not much is known about North Korea and you don't see figures like him out a lot, which makes it more exciting to try and spot him."

After spending about 20 minutes there, Mr Kim, who was accompanied by his sister Kim Yo Jong, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, visited the observation deck of MBS' 57th-storey Sky Park. His presence stunned many patrons at the bars and restaurants near the deck. But when they whipped out their cameras, they were told not to take photos of Mr Kim and the entourage.

An early sign of a VIP arrival at the deck, which offers panoramic views of Marina Bay and the Central Business District, surfaced when MBS told visitors that the deck would be closed at 8pm, two hours earlier than usual. MBS staff were seen polishing fingerprints off the glass panels of the observation deck and sweeping the driveway on the ground floor.

The Straits Times also saw a heavier security presence at MBS ahead of Mr Kim's arrival - a sight also seen at the Jubilee Bridge, which overlooks the Marina Bay area and the Esplanade. Mr Kim was seen strolling on the bridge - surrounded by men in dark suits - for about five minutes, before leaving in his motorcade at 10.25pm. He arrived back at the St Regis hotel at about 11.20pm.

The mini-city tour capped a rather quiet public schedule for Mr Kim yesterday, compared with his officials' and Mr Trump's. Apart from meeting Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana on Sunday evening, he has not been seen stepping out of St Regis.

In contrast, Mr Kim's officials met Singapore and US officials yesterday - making courtesy calls or engaging in last-minute talks before the one-day summit.

Mr Trump called on PM Lee yesterday before meeting members of the American community in Singapore.

Additional reporting by Linette Lai, Tiffany Fumiko Tay and Fabian Koh

Upbeat Trump says one-time chance will not be wasted
Curious crowds turn out to catch sight of President upon his arrival
By Jeremy Au Yong, Deputy News Editor, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2018

US President Donald Trump sounded an optimistic note as he arrived in Singapore last night ahead of his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tomorrow.

Asked how he was feeling about the summit shortly after he stepped off the plane, Mr Trump - who is on his first visit to Singapore as president - said simply: "Very good."

Air Force One touched down at Paya Lebar Airbase just past 8.20pm - arriving a few hours earlier than initially planned because Mr Trump abruptly left a contentious Group of Seven meeting in Canada.

Wearing a blue tie with his suit, Mr Trump waved as he walked off the custom Boeing 747.

The size of the American delegation is not immediately clear, although US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser John Bolton and Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin are all expected to be involved in the summit.

First Lady Melania Trump did not travel with Mr Trump to Singapore.

En route from Canada, the President tweeted that tomorrow's meeting was a chance to achieve a "truly wonderful result for North Korea and the world".

He wrote: "It will certainly be an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong Un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before. Create peace and great prosperity for his land.

"I look forward to meeting him and have a feeling that this one-time opportunity will not be wasted!"

He was greeted in Singapore by a receiving party that included Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chee Wee Kiong and Singapore's Ambassador to the US Ashok Mirpuri.

After a few handshakes, Mr Trump got into his waiting presidential limousine, and the motorcade of at least 30 vehicles sped off to the Shangri-La Hotel.

The US President's travelling motorcade is a well-documented spectacle around the world and it was no different here yesterday.

The long line of vehicles included "The Beast", a nine-tonne bulletproof and bombproof car that is able to withstand a chemical attack, and dozens of police vehicles as well as an ambulance.

And with the President's schedule widely known ahead of time, hundreds of people - from journalists to Americans to curious onlookers - lined the streets at various points of the motorcade's expected route.

There were also groups of the President's supporters, many wearing the red "Make America Great Again" caps that have become one of the most recognisable symbols of Mr Trump during his 2016 election campaign.

As The Beast pulled up to the Shangri-La Hotel last night, sections of the gathered crowd could be heard cheering, with others chanting "USA! USA!"

Earlier, a group of American students burst into a rendition of the American national anthem while waiting for the motorcade to pass.

One student, Erica Boland, 17, said: "I'm so proud of what Singapore was able to facilitate and this is such a monumental moment in history, so we couldn't miss this."

Among the Singaporeans staking out the route was property agent Joe Tham, 48, who said he was just an avid photographer out to get some pictures.

"This is a rare chance, so I just wanted to come down and try to take photographs," he told The Straits Times.

But, as a journalist with the White House press corp travelling with Mr Trump noted in a report, not everyone was thrilled by the spectacle.

He wrote: "Traffic was snarled on the other side of the road by the closures. Drivers looked across with what appeared to be interest and irritation depending on the vehicle."

Preparations had been taking place all week in anticipation of the arrival of both Mr Trump and Mr Kim yesterday, and the size of the logistics task was evident during Mr Trump's short trip from Paya Lebar to Tanglin.

A massive US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport plane - one that typically carries the presidential limo - had also been spotted in Singapore.

Mr Trump is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong just after noon today, followed by an expanded bilateral meeting and working lunch.

Additional reporting by Jan Lee and Adrian Lim

Kim Jong Un makes rare trip overseas for Singapore summit
N. Korean leader on only 4th trip abroad; flight details kept under wraps
By Karamjit Kaur, Senior Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2018

There was an element of suspense surrounding the arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday in Singapore until two hours before he landed - in contrast to that of United States President Donald Trump in the Republic last night.

At 2.35pm yesterday, an Air China Boeing 747 jet carrying Mr Kim, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, landed at Changi Airport.

But not all were convinced that he was really on the flight. Even after the plane landed, some media outlets still reported that he would be arriving later.

Another aircraft - a Russian-made IL-62 - which had also left North Korea's capital Pyongyang yesterday morning was due to arrive in Singapore at about 4pm.

For several weeks before Mr Kim's arrival, ahead of his landmark summit tomorrow with Mr Trump on Sentosa, it had been widely reported that he would travel on the IL-62 to Singapore.

The information, however, was never officially confirmed by the North Korean government.

As a result, many of those involved in the planning for his arrival - including Singapore Government officials and staff at Changi Airport - were still working towards a 4pm landing for Mr Kim as late as yesterday morning.

"With no official information (only a select group was presumably in the know), we had to be ready for him to arrive on either the Air China flight or his IL-62 plane," said a source.

It was not until about two hours before the landing that they were told that Mr Kim was indeed on the Air China flight.

In contrast, Mr Trump's arrival timing of around 8.30pm on Air Force One at Paya Lebar Airbase was revealed by the White House at around 8am yesterday.

Observers noted that the secrecy and mystery shrouding Mr Kim's plans could perhaps be explained by security concerns - especially since his international travels have been rare.

Publicly, the North Korean leader has left his country only thrice since taking over the reins after his father died in 2011: He visited China twice and went to the Demilitarised Zone between his country and South Korea this year.

Data from the Flightradar24 website showed that the Air China jet was travelling mostly over China's inland provinces - a break from the typical flying over water. Observers said the unusual flight path could be Beijing's effort at maximising Mr Kim's time in its airspace to provide protection as well as signal its backing for North Korea.

The only certainty in his travel plans to Singapore was that Mr Kim, who was welcomed at Changi Airport by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, would leave the airport through the VIP complex.

Outside the building - next to Terminal 2 - local and international journalists had started arriving from as early as 9am yesterday, so that they could book the best spots to capture Mr Kim's convoy.

About six hours later, their wait finally paid off.

Led by Traffic Police outriders, a motorcade - with as many as 35 vehicles - left the VIP complex. Mr Kim was believed to be in one of two Mercedes Maybachs that had unmarked plates and North Korean flags.

The convoy travelled along Airport Boulevard Road before hitting the Pan-Island Expressway and stopping at the St Regis hotel in the Orchard area, where Mr Kim and his delegation would be housed during his stay in Singapore.

Even as the motorcade caused traffic disruptions and delays for other vehicles on the road, it also attracted many gawkers, some of whom got out of their vehicles to take pictures and videos.

By the end of the day, three aircraft that departed Pyongyang at different times yesterday morning had landed at Changi Airport.

Apart from the Air China plane that carried Mr Kim and the IL-62 aircraft that he had been expected to be on, there was also a cargo carrier that was the first to land at about 1pm. The IL-76 plane is believed to have carried food items, vehicles, authorised weapons and other supplies.

The North Korean delegation is expected to comprise more than 100 government officials, including Mr Kim's bodyguards. An advance party had arrived on Saturday afternoon on an Air China passenger jet.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thanks Singapore for 'sincere efforts' to host summit
N. Korean leader meets PM Lee for the first time ahead of historic meeting with Trump
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday thanked Singapore for hosting the historic summit between him and US President Donald Trump tomorrow.

Shortly after arriving in Singapore in the afternoon yesterday, Mr Kim, who is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission in North Korea, the nation's highest decision-making body, met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the first time.

The two leaders exchanged broad smiles and warm thank-yous when they met at the Istana.

"The entire world is focusing on the historic summit between the DPRK and the US, and thanks to your sincere efforts... we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit," Mr Kim told Mr Lee through an interpreter. "And I would like to thank you for that."

DPRK refers to the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

He added that Singapore's efforts to host the summit would go down in history if the meeting was successful.

Mr Lee, for his part, thanked Mr Kim for coming to Singapore, the farthest the North Korean leader has travelled out of his country since assuming power in 2011.

"Thank you for also asking to hold the summit in Singapore," added Mr Lee.

Singapore has been following developments on the Korean peninsula closely for a very long time, the Prime Minister told the North Korean leader. "We have watched the struggles, and the sacrifices and the progress of the people," he said.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump will finally come face to face at the Capella hotel on Sentosa, with both leaders looking to hammer out a deal that may lead to North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for security guarantees.

Mr Lee is slated to meet Mr Trump today at the Istana.The US President arrived in Singapore last night aboard Air Force One, which landed at Paya Lebar Airbase. He flew in from Canada, where he had cut short his attendance at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was on hand to receive Mr Trump, just as he had earlier in the day welcomed Mr Kim at Changi Airport.

Dr Balakrishnan and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was also on hand to greet the North Korean leader at the airport, along with Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information as well as Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, were at the Istana when Mr Kim met Mr Lee.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Mr Kim and Mr Lee discussed relations between their countries, as well as developments in North Korea and the region, including recent positive developments on the Korean peninsula.

Mr Lee, it said, complimented "the bold and admirable decision" by Mr Kim and Mr Trump to come together for the summit.

Mr Lee also wished Mr Kim success for the summit, and expressed the hope that it would improve prospects for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the wider region.

One of the few countries with diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the United States, Singapore was tapped to host the summit because of its neutrality and its record for security.

The Republic is no stranger to hosting historic summits.

In 2015, it served as the location for the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. It was the first time that leaders from both sides met since Taiwan's separation from the mainland in 1949.

Mr Trump has described the Singapore summit as a "one-time shot" for peace.

Just before he made his early exit from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Mr Trump told reporters: "I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people and he has that opportunity. He won't have that opportunity again."

"It's a one-time shot and I think it's going to work out very well," he added.


Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un touch down in Singapore for historic summit
Kim thanks Republic for hosting meeting; Trump to meet PM Lee today
By Marc Lim, News Editor, The Straits Times, 11 Jun 2018

The two leaders who will sit down for the world's most keenly watched political meeting this year have arrived in Singapore, setting in motion a series of events that could have lasting global ramifications.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump touched down in Singapore yesterday within hours of each other, with Mr Kim arriving on an Air China Boeing 747 at Changi Airport at 2.35pm and Mr Trump on Air Force One at about 8.25pm at Paya Lebar Airbase.

They will meet at 9am in Sentosa tomorrow for a summit that could impact the security of not only the Korean peninsula, but also the rest of the region and world. The two leaders are expected to address the complete denuclearisation of the peninsula and possibly declare an end to the nearly seven-decade-long Korean War.

More than 2,500 international media personnel have descended upon Singapore, with images and footage of first Mr Kim's arrival, and then Mr Trump's, beamed live across the world.

"From our point of view, it's important that the meeting takes place, and that the meeting sets developments on a new trajectory - one that will be conducive to the security and stability of the region," Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said after a visit to the media centre at the F1 Pit Building.

Mr Lee also met Mr Kim at the Istana yesterday evening, with Mr Kim - officially Chairman of the State Affairs Commission - expressing gratitude for Singapore's efforts to host the meeting. If the summit is successful, it would put Singapore in the history books, he added.

The Trump-Kim Singapore summit will cost the hosts about $20 million, with about half going towards security costs.

The protection accorded to both leaders was evident yesterday as traffic was stopped on roads as well as expressways to allow for uninterrupted passage of their convoys.

The sight of two black limousines, with the respective flags of North Korea and the United States fluttering, amid a convoy of over 30 vehicles drew eager onlookers from the eastern part of the island to the central.

Mr Trump is scheduled to meet Mr Lee today before tomorrow's meeting with Mr Kim. US and North Korean officials will also hold last-minute talks in Singapore today, White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said. Should the summit go well, it will be in stark contrast to the G-7 summit, whereMr Trump pulled the US out of a previously agreed communique after he had boarded the flight to Singapore, citing "false statements" by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In Singapore, the excitement was palpable. Hundreds whipped out camera phones to capture Mr Kim's entourage as it made its way from The St Regis Singapore, where he is staying, to the Istana.

The Tanglin area, where both the St Regis and the Shangri-La Hotel, which will host Mr Trump, are located, was packed with onlookers.

Among those who caught a glimpse of Mr Trump's motorcade was Mr Teo Hong Mong, 78, a retired aircraft engineer. He said: "I wanted to see his big, fantastic limousine. This is very good publicity and exposure for Singapore."

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