Mon, 22 Oct 2018

Trump kickstarts ‘terrific’ relationship with Kim Jong Un

By Sheetal Sukhija, Asia Pacific News
12 Jun 2018, 11:52 GMT+10

SINGAPORE - After waiting for months to see how the historic meeting between two of the world’s most unpredictable leaders shapes up, all eyes were trained on the moment the U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, walked up to each other and exchanged a handshake set to go down in history.

The two leaders arrived in Singapore on Sunday and met for the very first time on Tuesday morning at the Capella hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore.

Kim Jong Un arrived at the Capella in his limousine, at roughly 8:55 a.m. local time - five minutes before the meeting was to begin.

Trump arrived at the hotel roughly five minutes later.

Singapore navy vessels, and air force Apache helicopters patrolled, while fighter jets and an Gulfstream 550 Airborne Early Warning aircraft circled the area as the two leaders entered the hotel.

Against the backdrop of interspersed American and North Korean flags, the two leaders approached each other on a colonnade, while maintaining cautious, stern expressions, and shook hands.

The 33-year-old North Korean leader was heard telling Trump, “Nice to meet you, Mr. President,” to which, Trump, who is twice Kim’s age, gave him a thumbs up.

With scores of journalists, photographers, analysts and experts from across the world watching closely, the leaders posed for photographs with slanted smiles and then headed to a meeting room where they sat beside each other and addressed the press.

The U.S. President told reporters, "I feel really great. We’re going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success. It will be tremendously successful. And it’s my honour and we will have a terrific relationship I have no doubt."

Meanwhile, speaking via a translator, Kim Jong Un said, “It was not an easy path here. There's a history of holding onto our ankles (a phrase which means that someone is trying to hold someone else back) and it appeared there were times that there were unfortunate practices where they were trying to block our eyes and our ears, but we've overcome everything and come to this place.”

Trump responded, “That’s true.”

After the brief exchange, Trump and Kim Jong Un made their way to the library at the Capella for their one-on-one private conversation, along with translators.

South Korea’s Yonhap news said that like the rest of the world, the South Korean President, Moon Jae In too watched the two leaders exchange their first historic handshake.

Jae In has been one of the key architects behind making the historic summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un possible.

Earlier in the day, Jae In said in a series of tweets that he was hopeful that the summit will to be recognised as a “historic milestone from war to peace.”

The South Korean leader also said, “The nuclear issue could not be completely solved by one summit but could take one year, two years or even longer for a complete resolution.”

Further, the South Korean media broadcast various gatherings across the country, which showed people cheering as they watch the historic moment on television sets.

Analysts were quick to point out that the handshake between the two leaders on Tuesday was very different from the other historic handshake between the two Korean leaders - Kim Jong Un and the South Korean President. 

They said that the Moon-Kim handshake was more dramatic and the South Korean President even stepped over the line into the North.

Meanwhile, the Trump-Kim handshake was said to be more formal, followed by which, the two leaders smiled, shook hands again and sat beside each other.

Shortly before the meeting, Trump said on Twitter, "The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers. We have our hostages, testing, research and all missle (sic) launches have stoped (sic), and these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!"

Meanwhile, the private discussion, which was expected to last an hour, was wrapped up within 41 minutes and as the two leaders emerged from the meeting, reporters yelled out questions at the duo, asking Kim Jong Un whether he had agreed to give up his nuclear weapons.

Trump told reporters that his meeting with the North Korean leader was going “very, very good. Excellent relationship.”

The two leaders then headed to attend the expanded talks, along with top officials from both the sides.

The larger bilateral dialogue featured Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser John Bolton seated alongside Trump.

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un’s top aides included Kim Yong-chol, who is believed to be the North Korean leader’s "right hand man,” along with North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho and one of the highest-ranking officials in Pyongyang, Ri Su-yong - who has previously held the post of foreign minister.

As the meeting began, Trump reportedly told Kim Jong Un they would work together to solve a problem “that at this point has been unable to be solved.”

He added, “Working together, we will get it taken care of.”

Meanwhile, Kim Jong Un said that there will be challenges ahead but that he will work with Trump.

He added via the translator, “We overcame all kinds of skepticism and speculations about this summit and I believe that this is good for the peace.”

The summit is set to conclude with a working lunch.

Before leaving for Washington, Trump is expected to address a news conference in Singapore after the summit concludes.

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