Newshour, Summit could give South Korea 'hope for peace'

14 Juin, 2018, 04:00 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • US President Donald Trump waves upon his arrival at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore before his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who rarely ventures outside his isolated country, visited tourist sites on Singapore's waterfront on Monday, hours before a historic summit with US President Donald Trump.

Watching Trudeau's press conference from Air Force One on his way to Singapore, Trump took umbrage at the Canadian leader's voter-tailored message and angrily rejected the communique. They then moved into a roughly 40-minute one-on-one meeting, joined only by their interpreters, before including their advisers.

For all the upbeat talk, it remained to be seen what, if any, concrete results the sit-down would produce.

Most ordinary North Koreans rely on a monotonous diet of rice, corn, kimchi and bean paste, and they lack essential fats and protein, according to testimonies from defectors and from United Nations officials allowed to visit.

For the US, the Singapore summit comes on the heels of Trump's controversial G-7 appearance, where he butted heads with key USA allies.

Kim said through an interpreter: "It wasn't easy for us to come here. We overcame all that and we are here now".

Hatred of the U.S. is helped by the very real memories among older North Koreans of the brutal bombing campaign waged against their country by the USA during the Korean war, in which hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed and cities leveled between June 1950 and July 1953.

Trump planned to speak to reporters after concluding the summit, the White House said.

The meeting is the first summit of its kind between a leader of North Korea and a sitting United States president.

Trump was hosted for a working lunch Monday by Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, at the Istana, which is the official residence of the city state's president. Kim has been accused of horrific rights abuses against his people.

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Pompeo said he is "very optimistic" the meeting Tuesday between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "will have a successful outcome". For Kim, one of the chief tasks from the summit - a legitimizing photo-op with a US president - is now all but guaranteed. But he added "our hostages" are back home and testing, research and launches have stopped. Trump has expressed some concern about China's influence.

Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul summed it up: "If Trump can't negotiate a deal on milk with one of our closest allies, how is he going to get a deal on nuclear disarmament with one of our greatest foes?"

Experts on North Korea say that the shortened meeting time leaves nearly no room to forge a path for Pyongyang's "complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization", or CVID, which the US State Department was promising just last week.

For the USA president, the reality show-like pageantry of the Singapore summit is the chief concern. But the White House said he will instead leave at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday -almost 15 hours earlier. North Koreans found out that Kim had agreed to meet Trump months after the rest of the world, as government media refused to break the news.

The public will quickly find out how Trump viewed the summit.

Touring parts of the country on Monday, the leader was pictured posing with Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. Or will Kim go in for a hug as he did with South Korean President Moon Jae-in?

Of those two buckets, trade and North Korea, there is no doubt North Korea is a more complex problem -- touching on non-proliferation, the balance of power in East Asia and America's treaty alliances. Or, it could amount to little more than a much-photographed handshake. After greeting each other, the two leaders planned to sit for a one on one meeting that a USA official said could last up to two hours, with only translators joining them.

"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. But U.S. officials have since avoided such lofty declarations. One of the diplomats interrupted me politely and said: "You miss the point".

North Korea has said it is willing to deal away its entire nuclear arsenal if the United States provides it with a reliable security assurance and other benefits.

The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions, which began years before Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign, as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

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