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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Trump arrives in Singapore for historic summit with Kim Jong-un 

The pair will meet on Tuesday amid huge security precautions

US President Donald Trump waves after arriving in Singapore June 10, 2018. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters Photo
US President Donald Trump waves after arriving in Singapore June 10, 2018. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters Photo

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have arrived in Singapore ahead of a historic summit that represents a high-stakes gamble for both leaders and the first meeting of the two bitter enemies for more than six decades.

Trump landed in Air Force One at Paya Lebar military air base hours before Kim arrived at Changi International Airport and swept through the city’s roads in a flag-adorned limousine flanked by his convoy of guards.

While Swiss-educated Kim has only previously made irregular jaunts into friendly neighbour China, he will on Tuesday meet with his American adversary at the popular Capella Resort on Sentosa Island, located on the southern tip of the Southeast Asian city-state and known for hosting a Universal Studios theme park.

It is the furthest Kim has travelled outside of his isolated country since taking power in 2011.

When the pair begin their summit at 9.00 a.m. local time amid tightened measures and with thousands of security personnel on duty, Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions will sit at the top of the agenda, as will securing a formal end to the Korean war. It remains unclear where the two world leaders will meet within the hotel complex.

Trump told reporters he would know quickly if Kim wanted to bring his country in from the cold and secure a legacy-making deal.

"I feel that Kim Jong-un wants to do something great for his people, and he has that opportunity, and he won't have that opportunity again," Trump told reporters before leaving the G7 summit.

"I think within the first minute I'll know," Trump said, calling it a “one-time shot” that he will not waste his time on if he believes that Kim is not serious about progress.

The meeting comes after months of acrimonious exchanges between the US and North Korean leaders, who have referred to one another as “rocket man” and a “mentally deranged US dotard” respectively. The North has also carried out its biggest nuclear missile test and several ballistic missile tests during Trump’s time in office. The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

But, after a remarkable period of diplomacy in the first months of the year, Kim met twice with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in and twice also with China’s Xi Jinping to lay the groundwork for the summit. It also released three US detainees and destroyed the area around its nuclear test site.

Kim flew into Singapore’s Changi Airport Sunday on an Air China Boeing 747 usually reserved for senior officials in Beijing. He and his 20 bodyguards were met by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.

He then held discussions with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong later in the day where he thanked him for hosting the event. The city-state has paid around $15 million to host the summit.

"If the summit becomes a success, the Singaporean efforts will go down in history," Kim told Lee.

There were concerns that the North Korean regime’s Soviet-era Ilyushin-62 aircraft would not be able to make the 3,000-mile trip but it also made the journey, but without Kim on board. A cargo plane carrying his vehicles and supplies too landed in Singapore.

Trump is staying at the Shangri-La Hotel, according to the White House, while Kim is staying at the St. Regis Hotel, both just a 20-minute drive from the island of Sentosa where they will come face-to-face.

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Alongside the pair will be their closest aides. With Kim, the man who hand-delivered a letter from him to Trump earlier this month: Kim Yong Chol. Other North Korean officials, including Kim’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong, Ri Su Yong, head of international relations for Pyongyang, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, are likely to be in attendance.

By Trump’s side, after his fraught G7 meetings in Canada, are expected to be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who all flew in with him onboard Air Force One.

Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "weak" after their G7 meeting and left without joining a communique signed by six of Washington's allies. One of his top advisors said the president's actions at the Quebec summit were to avoid a show of timidity on the part of the US. Economic advisor Larry Ludlow said on Tuesday that Kim "must not see American weakness" before the landmark meeting.

Kim is scheduled to leave Singapore at 2.00p.m. local time on Tuesday after meeting Trump, but US officials have reportedly slated for a second day of talks, dependent on progress during the first day of negotiations.

Any nuclear agreement between the two countries will likely hinge on whether North Korea will allow inspectors complete access to sites that are crucial to its nuclear weapons development programme. Whether Kim is willing to give up the country's warheads remains to be seen, as its arsenal are its one source of power that provides a stronger bargaining position with the outside world. The US would have to require security assurances and economic benefits in return for any movement from North Korea on its nuclear position.

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