Historic Trump-Kim summit begins
GB news 24 desk//
Donald Trump said he expected to have a “terrific relationship” with Kim Jong-un after the two leaders shook hands ahead of a historic summit in Singapore on Tuesday.
In the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders from both countries, the pair greeted each other warmly at a luxury hotel on Sentosa Island, before heading in for talks about denuclearisation.
The US president and North Korean leader approached each other while walking along outdoor corridors lined with white colonnades, with Mr Trump coming from the right and Mr Kim from the left.
Mr Trump extended his hand first as they reached each other. The handshake lasted at least 10 seconds, with Mr Trump adding a paternalistic pat on Mr Kim’s right arm.
They posed for photos in front of a row of US and North Korean flags, a remarkable backdrop which showed the extent to which relations between the two countries have thawed.
Mr Trump, who is 6 foot 3 inches, towered over Kim, who is around 5 foot 7 inches and close to 40 years younger than the US president.
Mr Trump then directed Mr Kim to walk down a hallway, where they briefly spoke.
“Nice to meet you Mister President,” Mr Kim said as he sat alongside Mr Trump, beaming broadly as the US president gave him a thumbs up.
With cameras of the world’s press trained on them, the two leaders built an initial atmosphere of friendship.
“I feel really great. We’re going to have a great discussion and will be tremendously successful. It’s my honour and we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt,” Mr Trump said.
“It was not easy to get here….There were obstacles but we overcame them to be here,” Mr Kim replied.
After about 40 minutes of talks, the leaders emerged, with Mr Trump predicting they will solve the “big problem” on the Korean peninsula.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim smiled and waved to the cameras before heading to wider bilateral talks with aides. Asked how the meeting had gone, Mr Trump said: “Very good. Very, very good. Excellent relationship.”
Mr Kim smiled by his side but ignored shouts of “Mr Kim, will you denuclearise” from journalists.
The US president was joined by John Kelly, his chief of staff, John Bolton, his national security adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, for wider talks.
“Mr Chairman, it’s a great honour to be with you, and I know we’ll have tremendous success together,” Mr Trump said before the meeting. “We’ll solve a big problem, a big dilemma, that until this point has been unable to be solved. Working together with you, we’ll get it taken care of.”
The comments suggested that Mr Trump – who said he would know within the first minute whether Kim was serious about denuclearising – was optimistic after initial chat.
Before they meeting, the White House announced plans for Mr Trump to leave early, raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.
Mr Pompeo had also sought to keep expectations for the summit in check.
“We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks,” Mr Pompeo said, describing a far more modest goal than Mr Trump had outlined days earlier.
The White House said Mr Trump was leaving early because negotiations had moved “more quickly than expected,” but gave no details about any possible progress in preliminary talks.