North Korea gets first big dose of Trump summit news

Saul Bowman
June 13, 2018

The president reminded critics that since he first agreed to meet Kim Jong-un, North Korea stopped testing nuclear weapons, paused missile launches, and returned American hostages to the United States.

On the eve of the first encounter between a sitting USA president and a leader of North Korea, American officials are maintaining any resulting agreement must lead to an end of North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile threats.

President Trump will be staying at the Shangri La Hotel and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un will reside at the St. Regis Hotel.

In the past few weeks, Trump has repeatedly said that he would simply walk out of the meeting with Chairman Kim, if he sensed that North Korea was not serious in denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

The two men spoke privately before a backdrop of red, white and blue flags, North Korea's single star interspersed with the stars and stripes of the American banner.

Not to be outdone, Kim firmly pumped Trump's hand, looking him straight in the eye for the duration, before breaking off to face the media.

"The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the USA, say the haters & losers", Trump tweeted on Monday evening, just hours before the scheduled summit.

Mr Lee is slated to meet Mr Trump today at the Istana.

Both Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump nonetheless appeared to revel in the pageantry of creating historic images, smiling and repeatedly shaking hands as they sat down for the first-ever summit between sitting leaders of the two countries.

Accompanied by senior officials, the leaders of both countries had just dined on avocado salad, fresh octopus, short rib and braised cod and, Mr. Trump said, "we're going right now for a signing".

Trump has also raised the possibility of further summits. "And it's my honour and we will have a terrific relationship I have no doubt".

It is the first time a sitting USA president has ever met a North Korean leader.

Ahead of the landmark talks, which many hope will pave the way for permanent peace in the Korean peninsula as well, camaraderie was in the air at the Istana, as Mr Kim and Mr Lee, speaking through an interpreter, exchanged warm greetings.

"I think that I brought awareness to a lot of things around the world and I think North Korea has given a lot of people the opportunity to do this conference now and I hope it's a success".

As Trump was trying to build a bridge with Kim, he was smashing longtime alliances with Western allies, withdrawing from the G-7 joint communique, escalating a trade fight and launching blistering criticism against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

"Whenever they're shaking hands, you can see the whites of their fingertips - these two guys are alpha males", Leong said.

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