Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Trump celebrates birthday during lunch with Singapore PM Lee

Kim Jong Un delivers his New Years speech at an undisclosed place in North Korea Jan. 1 2018 in this Korean Central News Agency Korea News Service via AP FILE
Scott Davis | 11 June, 2018, 15:39

After months of nuclear taunts, sports diplomacy and a rollercoaster of a will-they-or-won't-they tango, it all comes down to this: President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: "Excitement in the air" ahead of Kim meeting Trump doubles down on criticism of EU, Canada Merkel: EU will retaliate against Trump tariffs MORE will meet face-to-face with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on Tuesday.

As reported by the Yonhap News agency, Singapore is witnessing a stronger police presence, stringent security checks, and roadblocks are around the area where the two leaders are expected to meet. "Anyone involved in rallies would be arrested", said Choi Kang, vice president of Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

"We have a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely", Trump said as he began the working lunch.

On the streets, Kim and Trump impersonators thrilled around 100 fans who paid $10 to take selfies at Bugis Junction mall at the weekend. Otherwise, the relationship between the two countries could quickly become fraught with frustration and misunderstandings.

The talks will focus on reaching an agreement on the denuclearisation of North Korea in exchange for the easing of economic and diplomatic sanctions. "Denuclearization will not happen overnight, but a summit could get the ball rolling on both sides".

Most observers predicted that the outcome would be a short and vague statement build around the ambiguous aim of the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula" leaving it to later bilateral meetings to negotiate what that would mean in practice. Trump and members of his team have also said that the USA would be willing to guarantee Kim's safety and position in power if the country was willing to give up its nuclear weapons.

So the summit was almost derailed by talk from Trump's hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton of a "Libya model" of disarmament.

'The U.S. president and vice president don't generally travel on the same plane, ' he said.




Past nuclear deals have crumbled over North Korea's reluctance to open its doors to outsiders.

Trump's North Korean counterpart had also attended a meeting with PM Lee at the Istana yesterday for a half-hour session.

Last year, the North made one of the biggest breakthroughs in its missile and nuclear weapons programs - which it says it needs to defend against the risk of a USA invasion - when it announced that it had "completed" its state nuclear program after testing a missile capable of striking most, if not all, of the continental U.S. In return, Pyongyang may cease further nuclear tests and missile launches, an idea favoured by both China and Russian Federation.

North Koreans were offered a rare glimpse into their reclusive leader's schedule on Monday after the tightly controlled state media issued surprisingly detailed reports of his trip to Singapore. These are Washington's two goals, and this is what it will be looking for. "From what I can tell from (Trump's recent comments at the White House), they're not going to be asked to do much".

"Given that not too long ago Trump and Kim were trading threats and threatening war, that would certainly qualify as a success of sorts", Kugelman added.

A third example is Mr. Trump's assurance not to impose further sanctions, while emphasising that existing measures against Pyongyang would remain in place.

Visitors to Sentosa who are entering the island via cable cars can expect to encounter bag checks or be diverted from existing gantry lanes on the Sentosa's Gateway from Tuesday to Wednesday (12-13 June) as part of enhanced security measures for the upcoming Trump-Kim summit. These are long-term aspirations that will not be resolved in one meeting.

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