World waits eagerly to watch ‘talks of the century.

After a series of dramatic twists and turns, U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will finally sit down together Tuesday to discuss the denuclearization of the reclusive regime.

The summit, the first between a sitting American president and a North Korean leader, will begin at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa at 10:00 a.m. (KST)

Many hope the historic summit will pave the way for a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War and bring permanent peace to the Korean Peninsula.

Depending on the agreements the two leaders will reach, it will be the “talks of the century” that will define the fate of the Korean Peninsula and reshape the regional landscape.

President Trump, who spent his first night at the Shangri-La Hotel, Sunday, expressed optimism for the landmark summit Monday.

At a working lunch with Singapore Prime Minister? Lee Hsien Loong at Istana, the Singapore president’s official residence, Trump said, “We have a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely. But we appreciate your hospitality and professionalism and your friendship. Thank you very much.”

During the lunch, Singapore ministers and American officials also feted Trump’s birthday ― he will be 72, June 14.

( Donald Trump’s 72nd birthday on June 14 was celebrated in advance by Singapore ministers and American officials during the American President’s lunch with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at Istana, Monday.)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Lee, Sunday evening, staying at the St Regis Hotel, was believed to have spent the whole day with his advisers in preparations for the summit.

North Korea’s state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said the two leaders will exchange wide-ranging and profound views to rebuild relations, describing the summit as a “changed era.”

U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui had last-minute, closed-door talks at the Ritz-Carlton throughout the day to iron out differences on the definition of denuclearization.

The key issue for the summit is how the two leaders will find a middle ground between complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID) and complete, verifiable and irreversible guarantee (CVIG) of security for the North.

Trump has demanded immediate CVID, while Kim has asked for a security guarantee and sanctions relief. A peace treaty ending the Korean War may also be on the table.

At a press briefing, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that CVID was the only outcome that the U.S. will accept at the summit.

North Korea has previously confirmed to us its willingness to denuclearize, and we are eager to see if those words prove sincere,” Pompeo said.

He also said that the U.S. is prepared to offer North Korea security assurances “fundamentally different from before” to achieve denuclearization.

All of the issues are thorny but the main one is the sequencing of concessions ― who will give what and when,” Stephan Haggard, the director of the Korea-Pacific Program at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy, told The Korea Times.

“Kim wants a gradual process with some easing of sanctions, while the U.S. would like to see more accomplished up front.”

However, given the unpredictability of the two leaders, it is still possible they will seal a major deal.

By inking a landmark accord, Trump might want to win a Nobel Peace Prize and strengthen his base for re-election, while Kim seeks to claim his spot on the world stage and solidify his domestic control.

“Given they are both showmen of a sort, I would not be surprised if they make some splash by announcing some immediate breakthroughs, such as opening tourism offices or creating a peace conference,” said William Brown, adjunct professor at Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

In the meantime, the White House said Kim and Trump will have a one-on-one meeting, only accompanied by interpreters. The meeting will be followed by a working lunch and a larger meeting involving aides of both leaders.

Tomorrow’s meeting is not likely to last long as Kim will reportedly leave earlier than expected. Reuters reported Sunday night that Kim plans to depart from Singapore at 3 p.m., only five hours after the designated start time of the summit.

President Trump will hold a press conference after concluding the daylong summit and is scheduled to return to the U.S. at 8 p.m. (local time).

Source – The Korea Times




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