SINGAPORE • Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore yesterday, kicking off a landmark trip by the once-reclusive North Korean leader ahead of his historic summit with US President Donald Trump.
Kim — the first North Korean leader to visit the city-state — was greeted at Changi Airport by Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan before travelling to his hotel, the St Regis. Crowds lined the streets to snap pictures of Kim’s police motorcade. Kim was expected to meet later with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, before Trump’s own arrival later this evening.
The trip to Singapore — almost 5,000km (3,000 miles) south of Pyongyang — represents Kim’s farthest foray from home since taking power after his father’s death in 2011. The city-state of 5.5 million serves as neutral turf for both sides, since it has security partnerships with the US, a North Korean embassy and strong ties with China.
Trump and Kim are due to meet face to face at 9am tomorrow for the first-ever meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. Trump intends to briefly meet Kim one-on-one at the beginning of the meeting, according to a US official familiar with their plans.
Reuters reported that Kim was scheduled to depart Singapore at 2pm local time tomorrow, citing a source involved in the planning of his visit. Trump planned to leave the city-state on Wednesday morning local time, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a source.
Trump is gambling that the direct exchange can overcome decades of distrust between the two Korean War sides and convince Kim to give up his nuclear arsenal. Merely securing a meeting with an American president — a long-time North Korean demand — helps give him new status as a world leader.
Trump said on Saturday that he thought he would know “within the first minute” if Kim was serious about giving up his nuclear arsenal and whether “something positive will happen”. The plan is to wrap up the meeting in the evening and, if things go well, for the leaders to agree to a joint declaration, accor-ding to another US official.
After making no foreign trips for more than six years, the North Korean leader has visited China twice and met South Korean counter- part Moon Jae-in on the southern side of their militarised border.