N.Korea's Top Apparatchiks Converge in Singapore

N.Korea's Top Apparatchiks Converge in Singapore

President Trump met Monday with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as the US delegation raced to complete final arrangements ahead of his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!" the president tweeted on Sunday after landing in Singapore, where U.S.

North Korea's official newspaper Rodong Sinmun proclaimed Kim's arrival in Singapore on its front page, in unusually swift coverage of his global visit.

Officials onboard Air Force One included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.

Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore hours apart Sunday.

Despite the high stakes for the meeting, Trump has said that he would know within seconds of the start of the talks whether Kim was serious about abandoning nuclear weapons.

Speaking as he met with Singapore's prime minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday for lunch, Trump said: "We have a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow and I think things can work out very nicely".

Trump has said he hopes to make a legacy-defining deal for the North to give up its nuclear weapons, though he has recently sought to minimize expectations, saying more than one meeting may be necessary.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced this on Sunday, adding that the June 12 summit will give Singapore global publicity and demonstrate the country's standing in the worldwide community. Mr Trump wants Mr Kim to dismantle his nuclear arsenal entirely, thus giving up his only real deterrent and bargaining chip.

Those points were echoed in Monday's media coverage, which stressed that the talks with Trump would be focused on forging a relationship that is more in tune with what it called changing times - most likely meaning the North's new status as a nuclear weapons state - its desire for a mechanism to ensure a lasting a durable peace on the Korean Peninsula and, finally, denuclearization.

Travelling with him were top officials including foreign minister Ri Yong Ho, defence minister No Kwang Chol and Kim Yong Chol, a close aide who has been instrumental in the diplomacy that culminated in Tuesday's summit.

Security around Kim's hotel was extremely tight and guests were prohibited from going in and out, hours before Kim's black Mercedes Benz limousine cruised in.

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump impersonators, Howard X, left, and Dennis Alan, second left, pose for photographs during their visit to the Merlion Park, a popular tourist destination in Singapore, on Friday, June 8, 2018. It's a reflection of the intense global curiosity over Kim's sudden turn to diplomacy in recent months after a slew of North Korean nuclear and missile tests a year ago raised serious fears of war.

Trump had called Kim "Little Rocket Man" and threatened to unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen" on North Korea as it conducted several ballistic missile tests in defiance of worldwide warnings.

When a couple of guests were seen sneaking a photo, a North Korean official stormed up to them, demanding to check their phones.

Before the negotiators' meeting on Monday, Pompeo had tweeted a photograph of himself and ambassador Kim, to show the USA position was unchanged: "We remain committed to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula".

The tests came amid a campaign of "maximum pressure", led by the United States, that tightened economic sanctions against North Korea and raised the possibility of military action.

Many remain sceptical Kim will ever completely abandon his nuclear programs.

Believed to be 34, Kim is one of the youngest heads of state in the world and looks an unlikely candidate to be making history of the kind that has eluded his father and grandfather, both past leaders of North Korea.

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