Welcomed Chairman Kim Jong Un, who has just arrived in Singapore. pic.twitter.com/ZLK4ouIejx
— Vivian Balakrishnan (@VivianBala) June 10, 2018
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore today ahead of a historic summit. The meeting is aimed at finding a path toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.
The North Korean leader shook hands with Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan shortly after arriving at Singapore’s Chagi airport. US President Donald Trump is set to arrive in the city-state later on Sunday.
Balakrishnan posted a picture of himself shaking hands with Kim on Twitter.
Singaporean media reported that he had arrived at 2.38 p.m. local time (0738 UTC) on Sunday.
Kim and his delegation arrived aboard an Air China 747, according to Singapore’s Straits Times.
President Trump, meanwhile, touched down on Air Force One at the Paya Lebar airbase shortly before 8.30 p.m. local time. His arrival followed a dramatic departure from the G7 summit in Canada.
Welcomed US President Donald J Trump upon his arrival in Singapore.
Kim later met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and was seen to be smiling broadly during the encounter.
“The entire world is watching the historic summit between the DPRK (North Korea) and the United States of America,” Kim told Lee, using his country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Thanks to your sincere efforts … we were able to complete the preparation for the historic summit.”
According to the tracking website Flightrader24, Kim’s plane took off from Pyongyang in the morning and was headed for Beijing when it changed its flight number and route, heading south to Singapore. The two men are set to meet for a historic summit on Tuesday where they will focus on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for the easing of both economic and diplomatic sanctions.
The meeting comes after a flurry of diplomatic activity on the Korean Peninsula this year, with hopes high that an understanding might be reached with Pyongyang over its nuclear program. The meeting was briefly canceled by Trump. Any deal would likely depend on North Korea’s willingness to open its facilities for inspection.
Pyongyang 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. But many say this is highly unlikely, given how hard it has been for Kim to build his program and that the weapons are seen as the major guarantee to holding onto his unchecked power.
Any nuclear deal will hinge on North Korea’s willingness to allow unfettered outside inspections of the country’s warheads and nuclear fuel, much of which is likely kept in a vast complex of underground facilities. Past nuclear deals have crumbled over North Korea’s reluctance to open its doors to outsiders.
Another possibility from the summit is a deal to end the Korean War, which North Korea has long demanded, presumably, in part, to get US troops off the Korean Peninsula and, eventually, pave the way for a North Korean-led unified Korea.
The fighting ended on July 27, 1953, but the war technically continues today because instead of a difficult-to-negotiate peace treaty, military officers for the US-led United Nations, North Korea and China signed an armistice that halted the fighting.
The North may see a treaty — and its presumed safety assurances from Washington — as its best way of preserving the Kim family dynasty. The ensuing recognition as a “normal country” could then allow sanctions relief, and later international aid and investment.
Just meeting with Trump will also give Kim a recognition North Korea has long sought, setting him up as global player and equal to the US domestically and, internationally, as the leader of a “normal country” worthy of respect.