The unprecedented meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un will take place today at Capella, a luxury hotel in Singapore.
Both leaders arrived in Singapore on Sunday, two days ahead of the summit, taking time to have individual meetings with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Kim was the first to meet with the Singaporean prime minister on Sunday afternoon. The two leaders discussed Singapore-North Korea relations, developments in North Korea, and regional developments, including the recent positive trends on the Korean Peninsula. The North Korean leader thanked the Singaporean prime minister for his efforts in organizing the historic summit. Lee expressed hope that the U.S.-North Korea meeting will advance the prospects for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the larger region.
On Monday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump had a meeting with Lee, followed by a working luncheon hosted by the Singaporean leader. Thanking the Singaporean leader for organizing the summit, Trump expressed the United States’ continued commitment to engage the region and his support for Singapore’s Chairmanship of ASEAN. In this regard, Trump accepted an invitation from Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob to make a state visit to Singapore in November 2018, in conjunction with the sixth ASEAN-US Summit and 13th East Asia Summit.
Trump will meet with Kim this morning at 9:00 a.m local time. Following the initial greeting, Trump and Kim will participate in a one-on-one meeting, with translators only, an expanded bilateral meeting, and a working lunch.
The United States delegation at tomorrow’s expanded bilateral meeting will include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Pompeo spoke to journalists Monday evening, calling the summit “truly a mission of peace” and saying that the U.S. president is “going into this meeting with confidence, a positive attitude and eagerness for real progress.”
The main goals of the summit, Pompeo said, are establishing diplomatic relations with North Korea and the termination of the North Korean nuclear program. The United States will maintain sanctions until North Korea can prove the elimination of its nuclear weapons. “A complete and verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept,” Pompeo said. At the same time, he acknowledged North Korea’s desire for security and declared that the United States “is prepared to ensure a North Korea free of weapons of mass destruction is also a secure North Korea.”
Even though Pompeo kept an optimistic tone throughout his speech, it is still unclear whether this first historic meeting between the two presidents will end in paving the way to diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea or will deepen the dissent between the two countries. “If diplomacy doesn’t move in the right direction, sanctions will increase,” Pompeo told reporters.
Alexandra Radu is a photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur. Her portfolio is available here.