North Korea’s Kim lands in Singapore ahead of Trump summit


North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan after arriving in Singapore June 10, 2018. Singapore's Ministry of Communications Photo: Reuters
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan after arriving in Singapore June 10, 2018. Singapore’s Ministry of Communications Photo: Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has arrived in Singapore ahead of one of the most unusual summits in recent world history, a sit-down with US President Donald Trump.

The jet carrying Mr Kim landed at the airport on Sunday afternoon local time amid huge security precautions on the city-state island.

A large limousine with a North Korean flag was surrounded by other black vehicles with tinted windows as it sped through the city’s streets.

Mr Kim’s summit with Mr Trump has captured intense global attention after a turn to diplomacy in recent months after serious fears of war last year amid North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

The North Korean autocrat’s every move will be followed by 3,000 journalists up until he shakes hands with Mr Trump.

Despite the initial high stakes of a meeting meant to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, the talks have been portrayed by Mr Trump in recent days more as a get-to-know-you meeting.

He has also raised the possibility of further summits and an agreement ending the Korea War by replacing the armistice signed in 1953 with a peace treaty.

China and South Korea would have to sign off on any legal treaty.

There has been widespread speculation about Mr Kim’s rare trip out of the North, where he enjoys supreme power.

He may be staying at the St Regis Hotel, where China’s President Xi Jinping once stayed, and may be bringing his own armoured limousine and bodyguards.

A throng of journalists stood outside the hotel.

It is not just the logistics of Mr Kim’s trip that are unclear – there is a flurry of speculation about what results might come from the summit.

It was initially meant to rid the North of its weapons, to forge the “complete denuclearisation” of the country.

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 many, if not all analysts, say that this is highly unlikely, given how hard it has been for Mr Kim to build his programme and that the weapons are seen as the only protection he has.

Any nuclear deal will hinge on North Korea’s willingness to allow unfettered outside inspections of the country’s warheads and radioactive materials, much of which is probably kept in a vast complex of underground facilities.

Another possibility from the summit is a possible deal to end the Korean War.

North Korea has long demanded a treaty that may be aimed at getting US troops off the Korean Peninsula and, eventually, paving the way for a North Korean-led unified Korea.

The fighting ended on July 27 1953, but the war technically continues today because instead of a difficult-to-negotiate peace treaty, military officers for the US-led United Nations, North Korea and China signed an armistice that halted the fighting.

The North may see a treaty – and its presumed safety assurances from Washington – as its best way of preserving the Kim family dynasty.

The ensuing recognition as a “normal country” could then allow sanctions relief, and later international aid and investment.

Mr Trump’s supporters have floated the idea that forging such a treaty, which would need a sign-off from China and South Korea, would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr Kim may be interested in getting aid and eventual investment to stabilise and then rebuild a crumbling economy.

Just meeting with Mr Trump will also give Mr Kim recognition as the leader of a “normal” country and as an equal of the US leader.

Press Association

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