Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Pompeo Says U.S. Objective For North Korea Summit Hasn't Changed


North Koreans got their first big dose of news Monday that their leader Kim Jong Un had arrived in Singapore for what even the state-run media was calling a historic meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Trump and Kim meeting - the first between U.S. and North Korean heads of state - is a leap into the unknown, since like Trump, Kim is believed to be unpredictable and impulsive - meaning the risks that the talks won't go as well as everyone hopes are considerable.

The president's rhetoric has not mirrored that of his new secretary of state.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the meetings were "substantive and detailed" but there was no immediate word on what the outcome was.

He would not be drawn on what might be on offer.

Since then, US and North Korean diplomats have been trying to bridge the gap between the two countries' definition of denuclearization.

Trump arrived a few hours after Kim on Air Force One, directly from a tumultuous G7 summit in Quebec, which ended in a bitter personal exchange between the USA president and the host, the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau. After shaking hands with Singapore's foreign minister, Kim sped through the streets in a limousine, two large North Korean flags fluttering on the hood, surrounded by other black vehicles with tinted windows and bound for the luxurious and closely guarded St. Regis Hotel.

Their first meeting will be just the two men, with their translators, without any advisers present.

Trump landed at Paya Lebar Airbase on board Air Force One after cutting short his time at the G7 summit in Canada.

Trump tweeted on Sunday: "I am on my way to Singapore where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the world".

Trump initially touted the potential for a grand bargain with North Korea to rid itself of a nuclear missile program that has advanced rapidly to threaten the United States.

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"Welcomed Chairman Kim Jong-Un, who has just arrived in Singapore", Balakrishnan tweeted.

For decades the USA has been a sworn enemy. There are even anti-American museums in Pyongyang.

But the state is now trying to sell the idea of talking to what it once described as "the incarnation of all sorts of evil, the empire of devils".

The KCNA news agency heralded the summit as part of a "changed era". North Korea has spent decades building up a nuclear arsenal at great cost.

The leaders met at Lee's official residence the Istana, where Kim Jong-un sat down with Lee on Sunday.

"Rather than using a public restroom, the leader of North Korea has a personal toilet that follows him around when he travels", Lee Yun-keol, a former member of a North Korean Guard Command unit who defected, told The Washington Post. "Denuclearization will not happen overnight, but a summit could get the ball rolling on both sides". He also famously vowed to unleash "fire and fury" if Pyongyang kept threatening the US. Mr Kim has called him "mentally deranged" and a "dotard". This is fine in theory, however, both leaders must ensure they don't overlook the historical nature of the event by eschewing the optics.

Denuclearisation has been the central issue in the run-up to the talks.

Some hope for an end to Cold War confrontation and that the North will eventually give up its nuclear weapons, others are sceptical about Pyongyang's intentions - and some say they have too many economic problems of their own to pay much attention.

"The South can not simply afford to take care of the North economically", she said.

As the final preparations for the summit were being made, some veteran diplomats warned against an all-or-nothing approach from the U.S.

"I think we're going to have a relationship, and it will start on June 12", Trump said at the time.

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