Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

The Trump-Kim peace summit has been downgraded to a half-day

The Trump-Kim peace summit has been downgraded to a half-day

Whatever will be said and not said tomorrow on "denuclearization" will be closely scrutinized - as it was in the aftermath of the April 27 summit meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. Earlier Monday, senior diplomats from the two countries met at a hotel to make final preparations for the summit.

"It's a huge win for Kim Jong Un, who now - if nothing else - has the prestige and propaganda coup of meeting one on one with the president, while armed with a nuclear deterrent", said Michael Kovrig, a northeast Asia specialist at the International Crisis Group in Washington.

After concluding the summit, Trump planned to speak to reporters in Singapore before flying home, the White House said.

Kim and Trump will sit down for discussions over North Korea's nuclear arms program on Tuesday. A bilateral meeting and a working lunch, which will include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton, will follow.

Indeed, the necessity of a last-minute meeting between the USA and North Korean summit negotiating teams led by Sung Kim, a former US special representative on North Korea policy and an experienced negotiator, and Choe Son-hui, North Korea's top diplomat for dealing with the United States, suggested that the agenda has yet to be fixed up.

A TV screen shows newsreader Ri Chun-hee announcing the arrival of Kim Jong-un in Singapore, during an evening bulletin in Pyongyang.

Before a row of alternating USA and North Korean flags, the leaders shook hands warmly at a Singapore island resort, creating an indelible image of two unorthodox leaders as they opened a conversation that could determine historic peace or raise the specter of a growing nuclear threat.

Alluding to the North's concerns that giving up its nuclear weapons could surrender its primary deterrent to forced regime change, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that the US was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with "sufficient certainty" that denuclearization "is not something that ends badly for them".

But Pompeo's comments sought to reaffirm the high benchmark the United States is setting for Trump and Kim to reach an agreement. The document also made no mention of the worldwide sanctions that have crippled North Korea's economy, for pursuing its nuclear weapons program.

Trump traveled to Singapore from Canada, where he left the G7 summit early and alienated leaders with a refusal to agree to a post-meeting communique on trade policy. On Monday, the newspaper published a piece asserting the sovereignty of North Korea.

Trump spoke only briefly in public on Monday, forecasting a "nice" outcome.

Asked whether he would invite Kim to the White House, Trump said: "Absolutely, I will".

Negotiators from the USA and North Korea met on and off Monday to iron out details ahead of the summit, largely ignoring throngs of reporters as they hopped between luxury hotels. The US President has spurned offers from Japan to more closely coordinate a unified position ahead of the summit and aides worry he has not internalized the information presented to him in briefings.

Now, Trump plans to hold his first meeting with Kim alone save for a pair of interpreters, heightening concerns he will stray from the approach U.S. officials hope the President will follow.

The previous U.S. stance, said Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, was that "we don't deploy a president to negotiate a treaty, we deploy a president to sign a treaty where we know where every piece of punctuation is on that piece of paper". "We must put the American worker first!"

The summit will already be a significant PR coup for North Korea, which has sought a face-to-face meeting with the sitting USA president for decades.

North Koreans gathered outside a train station in the capital, Pyongyang, to watch news of the summit broadcast on a large screen. Will they simply shake hands?

While advisers say Trump has been reviewing briefing materials, the president insists his gut instincts will matter most when he gets in the room with Kim. And how will Trump react if he does? The ultimate goal, to be encoded in an agreement, would be to phase in the reciprocal conditions necessary for the complete verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear capabilities and a durable modus vivendi between the DPRK, its neighbors, and the United States. The profit Trump earns from foreign officials who visit his various hotels and golf resorts don't amount to a bribe, argued DOJ lawyers, because there was no "corrupt intent" and because it's hard to prove that Trump's foreign policy decisions are influenced by his business holdings.

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