June 12 in Singapore.
That’s when and where U.S. President Donald Trump will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in what will be the first-ever U.S.-North Korea summit meeting. No sitting U.S. leader has met a North Korean leader and the two countries do not have formal diplomatic ties.
“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” the U.S. president tweeted on Wednesday, hours after receiving three freed American detainees who returned from North Korea after a trip by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Tony Kim, Kim Hak-song, and Kim Dong-chul — three U.S. citizens with Korean heritage — were released by the North Korean regime in what the country’s state media said was a decision to grant “amnesty” by Kim Jong-un.
Much remains uncertain about the agenda for the meeting between Trump and Kim. The U.S. administration appears determined to raise the issue of disarming North Korea of its weapons of mass destruction, certainly including its nuclear weapons, and possibly even seeking expansive restrictions on its chemical and biological weapons programs as well as its long-range ballistic missiles.
North Korea, meanwhile, acknowledged the upcoming summit with the United States for the first time in the Korean Central News Agency’s coverage of Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang on Wednesday.
Singapore marks fairly neutral territory for a summit meeting between Trump and Kim, despite its close strategic ties to the United States. For Kim Jong-un, the trip to Singapore will mark the farthest he’s traveled from North Korea since becoming the country’s leader in 2011.
Kim has shown, however, that he is comfortable flying long distances, unlike Kim Jong-il, his father, who had a fear of flying. To make this clear, Kim flew earlier this week to Dalian, China, where he was received by Chinese President Xi Jinping for their second summit meeting in less than two months.
The summit meeting between Trump and Kim will come after nearly six months of a pivot toward diplomacy from North Korea and Kim Jong-un.
After 20 ballistic missile tests and one nuclear test in 2017, Kim used his New Year’s Day address to initiate a process of diplomacy first with South Korea, which picked up steam during the PyeongChang Winter Olympic games.
In March, Kim hosted South Korean envoys in Pyongyang. Those envoys conveyed an invitation from Kim to Trump, which the U.S. president immediately accepted.
Since March, Kim has met Chinese President Xi Jinping, attended an inter-Korean summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and had two meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.