History is in the making as US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands in front of the world’s media as the much- anticipated Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)-USA Singapore Summit started today.
The meeting is significant for world peace as the two leaders met to negotiate an end to a decades-old stand-off in the Korean peninsula.
The historic handshake between Trump and Kim which will be etched in everlasting memory seeing the tumultuous relations the two countries, took place at the Capella hotel in Sentosa, in front of a display of North Korean and US flags. Both the leaders smiled and exchanged pleasantries before posing for photographs.
After that, they were taken to a sitting room where both Trump and Kim fielded questions. Trump spoke first and said, “It’s my honour ... We will have a terrific relationship I have no doubt."
Kim Jong Un speaking in Korean, said, “It was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today.”
Both the world leaders then proceeded to have a one-on-one meeting with only their translators present, before stepping out after around 40 minutes to wave at the assembled media from a balcony.
Trump described his private meeting with Kim as “very good, very very good”.
They were later joined by their delegations for a series of meetings and working lunch. The two delegations sat across a nearly 80-year-old, 4.3m-long teak wood table formerly used by the Chief Justice of Singapore in the daily administration of the court. It has been loaned by the Singapore National Gallery to the US Embassy.
The US delegation comprised of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton. During the working lunch, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, and National Security Council senior director for Asia Matt Pottinger joined them.
The North Korean delegation includes vice-chairman of the central committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, Kim Yong Chol, party vice-chairman and director of North Korea's International Affairs Department Ri Su Yong, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui.
There was considerable excitement among the Singaporeans for the summit as crowds lined the entire street to catch a glimpse of both these leaders when they arrived in Singapore on Sunday. People took photographs and waved to the leaders.
Both leaders left their hotels in the Orchard area of Singapore shortly after 8am local time on Tuesday as they headed for Sentosa, which is off Singapore’s southern coast.
Trump, left at around 8.05am from the Shangri-La Hotel. Kim left the St Regis hotel shortly before 8.15am as his convoy – comprising about 20 security, North Korean state media and official vehicles – made its way to Sentosa.
Kim arrived for the meeting with his sister and confidante Kim Yo Jong and his trusted aide Kim Chang Son.
US President Donald Trump held bilateral talks with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, when the US president also met with the American community in Singapore at the Shangri-La Hotel.
There has been a significant turnaround in the relations between both US and North Korea as Trump and Kim sat together today which was earlier marked by the two sides trading insults and threats, and Pyongyang conducting a series of ballistic missile tests.
It also marked a diplomatic landmark between the two countries with a long history of tense ties. The 1950-53 Korean War ended without an official peace treaty. Previous US presidents have made several attempts to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, without success.
The real barometer of today’s summit success will be fathomed whether the elusive peace will visit Korean peninsula or not.