Kim Jong-un, North Koreans called 'masters at managing the media'

Blanche Robertson
June 14, 2018

The remarks came as North Korean and United States negotiators met in Singapore Monday for final preparations on the eve of an unprecedented summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, seeking to bridge the gaps over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.

Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore Sunday, at different airports. Talking to his hosts and smiling, he waved at the crowds jostling for pictures of him.

- South Korean President Moon Jae-in has no current plans to join Trump and Kim at the end of their summit. Pompeo held firm to Trump's position that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes - and said they would even increase if diplomatic discussions did not progress positively.

Both sides are finalising preparations for Tuesday's historic forum in Singapore, which is due to kick off at 9:00am (local time).

Photo taken on June 7, 2018 shows the exterior of the Capella Hotel in Singapore's Sentosa Island. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to keep expectations for the summit in check. A senior White House official said Trump was "feeling good" and that the summit was open-ended, adding: "They will talk for as long as they need to".

The two leaders will have a "one-on-one" meeting - accompanied by translators - before wider talks with their top aides.

Singapore, doing its bit to promote peace, has said it expects to spend about S$20 million ($15 million) on hosting the summit, including the North Koreans' hotel bill, Singapore's foreign minister told the BBC.

Earlier, officials from the two sides held last-minute talks aimed at laying the groundwork for the summit between Trump and Kim, a meeting nearly unthinkable just months ago when the two were exchanging insults and threats that raised fears of war. Trump is probably keen to have a successful summit after disagreements at the G7 summit and before the November mid-term elections in the United States.

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Boo Seung-chan, a research fellow at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, was equally optimistic about the outcome. Along the way, he offered "that things can work out very nicely" with North Korea.

In an encouraging sign, the DPRK made a decision to suspend its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests on April 21.

North Korea has said it is willing to deal away its entire nuclear arsenal if the United States provides it with a reliable security assurance and other benefits.

But posing flawless outcomes will impede efforts to persuade North Korean leaders that the Congress will provide the cooperation necessary to fulfill the terms of an agreement that actually can be negotiated in the real world.

"Will that be enough?"

In recent years, the Kim regime has also pointed to the fate of countries such as Libya and Iraq as a reason to build up a strong deterrent. In April, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri posted a selfie with King Mohammed of Morocco and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, just months after the drama triggered by his shock resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia. "They are the protagonists", Guterres told reporters.

The North Korean news agency KCNA said the meeting signalled "a changed era" in bilateral ties with Washington.

For the USA president, the reality show-like pageantry of the Singapore summit is the chief concern.

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