Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Tea for Two: What May Come of Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore?

Tea for Two: What May Come of Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore?

There's wild speculation about how Kim will perform on the world stage, although one question was answered Sunday: His grim-faced, well-muscled bodyguards marched alongside his armored limousine at one point in Singapore, just as they did when he met the South Korean leader in April. Traffic was held up in the steamy midday sun and scores of bystanders were penned in by police when Trump went to meet Lee.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim are both looking for political victories that will help them at home.

This is the absolute crux of the summit and there remains a chasm between the two sides that diplomats were scrambling to close on the eve of the meeting. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the plans and insisted on anonymity.

Outside the St. Regis Hotel in Singapore, where North Korean leader Kim Jung Un is staying, the media was confined to the sidewalk. He also has sought to lower expectations for the meeting, saying it may be the start of a longer process.

Pyongyang indicated that it may be open to getting rid of its nuclear weapons in exchange for the US security guarantees and other benefits, though some believe it's an unrealistic prospect as the nuclear arsenal cements Kim's grip on the country and deters all-out attacks against them.

Singapore is one of the few countries that have diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and North Korea.

The U.S. president said Saturday that he'll understand Kim's intentions "within the first minute" of meeting him and whether he's willing to give up the nuclear arsenal. He was joined in Singapore by Ambassador Sung Kim, the US envoy to the Philippines, and Ambassador Michael McKinley, a career diplomat Pompeo recently tapped to be his senior adviser.

A picture of Trump smiling at the cake, decorated with fresh fruit, was shared on Twitter by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with the message: "Celebrating birthday, a bit early", as Trump turns 72 on Thursday.

China, which wants to cool tensions on the Korean Peninsula and was rattled by Trump's "Fire and Fury" talk previous year, has a major stake in the outcome of tomorrow's much-anticipated bilateral nuclear talks between Trump and Kim.

Highly unusually, North Korea's state-run media are already reporting on Mr Kim's trip to Singapore to meet Mr Trump.

It "would instead lay out practical steps with requisite commitments from North Korea that demonstrate that it understands, accepts and is committed to achieving denuclearisation as the United States defines it", said Enos, who is also in Singapore to watch the proceedings.

Part of the interest in Tuesday's summit is simply because Kim has had limited appearances on the world stage.

Pompeo travelled twice to Pyongyang in recent months to lay the groundwork for Trump's meeting, becoming the most senior member of Trump's team to spend time with Kim face to face.

A Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USA side was entering the talks with a sense of optimism and an equal dose of scepticism given North Korea's long history of developing nuclear weapons.

North Korea once enjoyed two sponsors, China and the Soviet Union.

It's unclear what Trump and Kim might decide Tuesday.

Any nuclear deal will hinge on North Korea's willingness to allow unfettered outside inspections of the country's warheads and nuclear fuel, much of which is likely kept in a vast complex of underground facilities.

Plans for the meeting almost foundered after Trump abruptly withdrew in May, citing North Korea's "open hostility" during negotiations.

Bringing the Korean War to a formal end 65 years after hostilities ceased will also be on the table at the first-ever summit between a North Korean leader and a sitting USA president of its "imperialist enemy".

North Korean forces invaded the South in 1950 and the ensuing war saw USA -led United Nations troops backing Seoul fight their way to a stalemate against Pyongyang's forces - which were aided by Russian Federation and China - before the conflict ended in stalemate and an armistice which sealed the division of the peninsula. The North may see a treaty - and its presumed safety assurances from Washington - as its best way of preserving the Kim family dynasty.

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