The stage is set for the much-awaited Singapore summit – the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – which will take place today.
Ahead of the meeting, scheduled at 9 am (6:30 IST) on June 12, Trump said the meeting could “work out nicely”, with the White House declaring that nuclear talks with North Korea have moved “more quickly than expected”.
“The discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved more quickly than expected,” the White House said in a statement on Monday.
Meanwhile, Trump planned to depart early from the meeting with Kim Jong at Singapore. The US President had been earlier scheduled to fly back to Washington on Wednesday morning. However, on the eve of the summit, he altered his schedule, deciding to return home at around 7 pm on Tuesday itself.
As eyeballs across the world are on the historic summit, the two leaders are likely to meet one on one, with just the translators joining them. According to a US official, the meeting is expected to last for two hours before the two admit their respective advisers.
“Following the initial greeting, President Trump and Chairman Kim will participate in a one-on-one meeting, with translators only, an expanded bilateral meeting, and a working lunch,” read a White House statement.
What to Expect From Singapore Summit?
The talks between Trump and Kim Jong are likely to revolve around denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, a topic on which the two nations have very different objectives.
While some observers believe that it is the beginning of the complete denuclearisation of North Korea, several others expect it to be just an elaborate get-to-know-you session, according to Associated Press.
Many also believe that the meeting may result in disarmament, a peace treaty ending the Korean War.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that ongoing talks between the two nations were advancing well, but stressed the meeting would be the beginning of a process that would “set the conditions for future talks.”
According to Pompeo, the US is ready to offer North Korea a “unique” security assurances in return for denuclearisation. He insisted that the US would accept nothing less than complete denuclearization.
While the US seeks to exact complete denuclearization from North Korea, Kim fears giving up all nukes may invite invasion by the US.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency saying that the two sides would exchange “wide ranging and profound views” to reset relations that have been at an all-time low in the recent times. It heralded the summit as part of a “changed era”.
“Discussions would focus on “the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula, the issue of realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern,” said KCNA.
Both North Korea and the US are decades old arch-enemies. It all began in 1950 when the North invaded the South Korea, an event which was followed by three-year war.
While China stood by the North, Seoul was backed by the US, which since then has its forces deployed in the South.
In 2017, Pyongyang fired off ballistic missiles and conducted the most powerful nuclear test till date, infuriating the US.
Its sole ally China was left embarrassed as it is seen as North’s “big brother”. Ties between the two nose-dived after Beijing gave a go-ahead to the crippling UN sanctions on Pyongyang.
China will closely watch the summit as it cannot afford to be sitting on the fence.
This year, Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping in a sign of revival of ties.