Friday, 19 October, 2018

Singapore: Security tight ahead of Trump-Kim summit

Police tighten security at leaders' hotels Kim And Company Arrive In Singapore Via A Procession Of Chinese And North Korean Jets (Updated)
Steven Clarke | 14 June, 2018, 03:48

President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un spent Monday huddling with advisers in luxury Singapore hotels less than half a mile apart, readying for a nuclear summit that could define the fate of millions, and their own political futures.

Trump's two-day stop in Quebec for a meeting with the leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations was exactly the fiasco many feared.

Trump was joined at the meeting with Lee by US officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

UN Security Council Resolution 2270 forbids loaning aircraft, ships and crew to North Korea, but Beijing apparently had US approval.

The Pyongyang regime envisages denuclearisation as a gradual and somewhat amorphous process, in which both sides take phased reciprocal steps to defuse tensions with the ultimate, but distant goal of nuclear disarmament.

The Trump administration has previously insisted on "complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament" (CVID) of North Korea, with the emphasis on unilateral steps by Pyongyang rewarded by United States security assurances. But the president has significantly softened the U.S. negotiating stance in the immediate run-up to the summit, accepting the prospect of an open-ended negotiations involving multiple future summits.

The two leaders discussed bilateral relations as well as the summit and the recent positive developments in the Korean Peninsula. It heralded the summit as part of a "changed era".

North Korean vice minister of foreign affairs Choi Sun-hee (third from left) arrives at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Singapore to continue talks with the American ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim. Three planes took off in North Korea at about an hour's interval on Sunday - an IL-76, an Air China Boeing 747 and an ancient Ilyushin IL62 - leaving watchers in the dark about which one Kim was on.

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Still, the sense of anticipation was great in Singapore, with people lining spotless streets holding cellphones high as Trump headed to meet Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"The entire world is watching the historic summit between (North Korea) and the United States of America, and thanks to your honest efforts. we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit", Kim told Lee through an interpreter. Traffic was held up in the steamy midday sun and scores of bystanders were penned in by police when Trump went to meet Lee.

The motorcade carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves the Istana, or Presidential Palace, in Singapore on Sunday on June 10, 2018, after his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

It is an extraordinary turnaround from the rhetoric of a year ago, when Trump threatened the North with "fire and fury" and Kim dubbed him a "mentally deranged USA dotard".

"Sorry, we can not let our friends, or enemies, take advantage of us on trade anymore", Trump wrote in a tweet.

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, devoted its first two pages and 16 photos to Kim's trip, including images of him boarding an Air China Boeing 747 for the journey.

His sister and close aide Kim Yo Jong is also in Singapore, and is believed to have travelled separately on the ageing Soviet-made Ilyushin-62 that is Kim's personal aircraft.

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