So the summit was almost derailed by talk from Trump’s hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton of a “Libya model” of disarmament.
South Korea estimates the North has 50 kilograms of plutonium, reportedly enough for around 10 bombs, and a “considerable” ability to produce uranium weapons.
The world is crossing its fingers.
Led by Sung Kim, a longtime State Department diplomat who now serves as the US ambassador to the Philippines, the USA team had held at least five sessions with the Pyongyang delegation over the past two weeks at the demilitarized zone in Korea.
On Sunday, Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore where he is expected to hold a meeting with US President Donald Trump on June 12.
Some foreign-policy experts said the breakdown at the Group of 7 meeting would play to North Korea’s advantage, since Mr. Trump can ill afford a second failed summit, back to back. But any request for the USA to withdraw its 28,000 troops from South Korean bases would likely be rejected.
Word does get around, however, and the prospect of a meeting between Kim and Trump had already been on the public’s radar.
While fighting a trade war with allies, Trump now brings his America First negotiating style to the deadly topic of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.
Then came the New Year, an Olympics in South Korea and change.
It has been used before for high-profile diplomatic occasions. 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 … As a master dealmaker, he’ll just know.
The BBC report, quoting US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, stated that North Korea will “receive relief” from the grip of United Nations sanctions only when steps to denuclearization are taken. “But they just stopped right before they crossed that line”.
While Singapore has authoritarian leanings, it is still a thriving bastion of capitalism and wealth, and Kim will be performing his high-stakes diplomatic tight-rope walk in front of 3,000 worldwide journalists, including a huge contingent from the ultra-aggressive South Korean press – sometimes referred to by Pyongyang as “reptile media” – two of whom were arrested by Singapore police investigating a report of trespassing at the residence of the North Korean ambassador.
Trump, asked by reporters as he arrived in Singapore how feels about the summit, said “very good” before climbing into his limousine and heading to the hotel.
Experts believe the North is close to being able to target the entire US mainland with its nuclear-armed missiles, and while there’s deep skepticism that Kim will quickly give up those hard-won nukes, there’s also some hope that diplomacy can replace the animosity between the USA and the North. An invitation to visit Trump in October, coupled with a few interactions with the UN General Assembly could be most catalytic. Soon after, Mr Kim declared that his country had achieved its mission of becoming a nuclear state, with missiles that could reach the US.
Whether such a deal can be done, Trump declared Saturday, is something he will know nearly from the moment they meet. The only sane reaction is to hope that they do both get along.
The official said Trump and Kim would hold a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday that could last up to two hours.
If talks go well the July summit could be followed by another meeting in Washington scheduled for September, South Korean media says.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the White House this week to press Trump once more before the summit on those issues.
Pompeo traveled 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.
Fifth, photo opportunities must be encouraged, not dismissed.
Expectations for the summit were being tempered by South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who said: “The deep-rooted hostile relationship and the North Korean nuclear issue can not be resolved in one single action in a meeting between leaders”.
But he has since lowered expectations, backing away from an original demand for North Korea’s swift denuclearization. There’s probably an even better chance that it will take a period of time. “So what I’m saying is, we could have an agreement”.
North Korea is estimated to have up to 120,000 political prisoners in its sprawling gulag system.