Former U.S. National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman arrived in Singapore late on Monday for a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying he was “excited to be part of it”. “If diplomacy does not move in the right direction. those measures will increase”.
Even so, the summit continues to be a sensitive topic in North Korea and it is hard – even more so than usual – to get people to express opinions about it.
Even hours before the unprecedented meeting, it was unclear if it would produce a breakthrough or collapse in acrimony.
At the Capella hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa island, a popular resort destination, Trump and Kim will first meet at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday (9 p.m. ET Monday) for a handshake and photo op.
In fact, only hours before the White House announcement, USA secretary of state Mike Pompeo had seemed to lower expectations for the meeting, which Mr Trump had earlier predicted could potentially yield an on-the-spot deal to end the Korean War.
Asked by a reporter how he felt about the summit, Trump said: “Very good”. Kim’s schedule was unclear.
Trump accepted the invitation from President Yacob to make a state visit to Singapore in November, Channel News Asia reported.
The Singapore Mint unveiled three commemorative coins, in gold, silver and nickel, featuring clasped hands under the North Korean and American flags on the front and the inscription “World Peace” on the reverse.
Mr Kim smiled broadly on Sunday evening as he met Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong.
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.
Pompeo also said Tuesday’s meeting presents a test of Kim’s willingness to agree to deal his nuclear weapons away for “protections” from the United States.
“The US administration will have to see tangible steps over time by NK toward denuclearization”, Ken Gause, an expert on North Korea’s leadership and a director of International Affairs Group at CNA.
“We’re prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearisation isn’t something that ends badly for them”, he said. That would avoid the prospect of Kim winning sanctions relief for gradual progress while remaining a nuclear power.
The White House later said discussions with North Korea had moved “more quickly than expected” and Trump would leave Singapore on Tuesday night, after the summit.
US and North Korean officials have been holding preliminary meetings in the run-up to the Tuesday summit.
“The fact that we have been chosen as the site of the meeting – we did not ask for it, but we were asked and we agreed – says something about Singapore’s relations with the parties, with America, with North Korea, also our standing in the worldwide community”. Trump’s self-proclaimed negotiating skills formed the basis of his public persona even before it became the core of his political identity, when he was elected promising that he alone could fix the nation’s ills.
Trump is set to dispatch U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Seoul in the aftermath of the summit to discuss plans to work together on realizing any agreement made on Tuesday.
America is hoping to be able to convince Pyongyang to get rid of its nuclear weapons.
Foreign Ministry spokesman noted that “optimistic look at the nature of U.S. policy is beyond the bounds of possibility, and the recent violations also confirm this”.
He said Iran views Mr Trump and the United States with “great pessimism”, saying they are known for “quitting treaties and violating their commitments”.