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Sunday
Jun102018

Trump arrives in Singapore for historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Win McNamee/Getty Images(PAYA LEBAR, Singapore) -- President Donald Trump has arrived in Singapore for a landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Aboard Air Force One, the president touched down at Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base at 8:21 p.m. local time and was greeted by Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Trump, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, got to Singapore several hours after Kim Jong Un arrived. He waved as he emerged from Air Force One and briefly spoke with Balakrishnan and other dignitaries on hand.

Asked by reporters how he was feeling, Trump said, "very good" before getting into his presidential limousine and departing the airport for the Shangri-La Hotel, where he and his entourage will stay.

When he arrived at the hotel, Trump was greeted again by Balakrishnan and Ashok Kumar Mirpuri, ambassador of Singapore to the United States, and other Singaporean officials.

Kim, meanwhile, arrived in Singapore a few hours earlier and complimented his hosts for the accommodations.

"It's a historic summit and you provided terrific conditions and provided convenience so that our people could come here with no discomfort," Kim told Singaporean officials upon his arrival. "Singapore government promoted convenience with much effort as if it were their household affair."

He said that if the "summit works out with good outcome [the] Singaporean government’s efforts will go down in history forever.”

Kim also met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana Palace, the official residence of the prime minister.

"I have the expectation that this [summit] will be very successful," Kim, speaking through an interpreter, told the prime minister.

Trump is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Lee for lunch on Monday at the Istana Palace. Later Monday, the president will meet with the U.S. Embassy staff in Singapore.

Face-to-face meeting on Tuesday

Trump and Kim, two of the world's most unpredictable leaders, are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the luxury Capella Hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island to discuss North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons development programs.

The United States has imposed various economic sanctions against North Korea over its weapons program in recent years. Since taking office last year, Trump has been hoping to secure a deal with North Korea in which Kim would relinquish his nuclear weapons.

The White House announced the upcoming nuclear summit last month, but diplomatic peace didn't last long. Kim threatened to pull back from the meeting and criticized the United States with typical, fiery rhetoric. In response, Trump called off the planned summit in an official signed letter.

A week later, Trump announced that the summit was back on after a North Korean envoy hand-delivered him a letter from Kim.

G7 acrimony

Trump left for Singapore on Saturday, after meeting with world leaders in Canada for the Group of Seven, or G-7, summit. Trump departed the G-7 summit in Quebec having angered some American allies over his administration's move to impose steep tariffs on aluminum and steel imports from the European Union, Mexico and Canada.

He also left some G-7 leaders baffled by his proposal to allow Russia back into the group.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose country hosted the summit, appeared to be engaged in a war of words and tweets with Trump.

Trump backed out of a joint communique with the other G-7 countries that acknowledged that "free, fair, and mutually beneficial trade is a key engine for growth and jobs."

But on his way to Singapore, Trump rescinded his endorsement of the communique after Trudeau held a news conference saying all seven countries had signed the communique despite "some strong, firm conversations on trade, and specifically American tariffs."

Trudeau said Canadians are polite, "but we will not be pushed around."

He said he informed Trump that Canadians “who stood shoulder to shoulder with American soldiers in far-off lands” do not take lightly the idea that the tariffs are for national security reasons.

“It’s kind of insulting,” Trudeau said.

On Twitter, Trump said Trudeau was "meek and mild" during the summit, but was "very dishonest and weak" during his post-summit news conference.

"Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!" Trump said in a tweet.

French President Emmanuel Macron issued a statement reaffirming France's endorsement of the G-7 communique.

"Let's be serious and worthy of our people. We make commitments and keep to them," Macron said. "International co-operation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks."

'One time shot'

Trump seemed more upbeat about his upcoming meeting with Jong Un, a ruthless dictator he has previously called "short and fat" and a "tyrant."

"I am on my way to Singapore where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the World. It will certainly be an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong-un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before..." the tweet reads. "...Create peace and great prosperity for his land. I look forward to meeting him and have a feeling that this one-time opportunity will not be wasted!"

Earlier, Trump told reporters he will be undertaking a "mission of peace" as he heads into "unknown territory in the truest sense."

He described the highly-anticipated meeting as a "one-time shot" for Kim, but told reporters he thinks "it's going to work out very well."

"I think I'll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen," Trump said. "And if I think it won't happen, I'm not going to waste my time. I don't want to waste his time."

North Korea's nuclear ambitions date back decades

North Korea evolved into the nuclear-armed enigma it is today long before Trump took the White House. In fact, North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its development of long-range rocket systems have been three generations in the making. And the country's standing as a nuclear-weapon-possessing state has even been etched into its constitution.

Kim Il Sung, the country's founder, who ruled from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994, dreamed of an intercontinental ballistic missile as the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons against the North during the Korean War.

The Soviet Union, Pyongyang's ally and sponsor, began training North Korean scientists and engineers in the 1950s, giving them the "basic knowledge" to initiate a nuclear program, according to the American Security Project, a nonprofit nonpartisan public policy and research organization based in Washington, D.C.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the death of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il succeeded his father amid a dire famine that killed up to 2.5 million North Koreans. To protect the state, the new leader developed the songun, or military first, doctrine, under which the military's access to resources is prioritized.

"In this sense, the military is not just an institution designed to perform the function of defending the country from external hostility,” South Korean scholar Han S. Park wrote in a 2007 paper. “Instead, it provides all of the other institutions of the government with legitimacy.”

In July 2006, North Korea tested the Taepodong-2, its first missile that could, in theory, reach parts of the United States. The test failed. Three months later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device near the village of Punggye-ri.

Kim Jong Il died at the end of 2011 and his second son, Kim Jong Un, took power of the reclusive state.

In April 2013, Kim announced a policy of co-developing North Korea's economy and nuclear weapons program to reinforce his regime's domestic, diplomatic, economic and security interests, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Since then, his regime has continued to develop intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles, while staging a series of nuclear tests. Kim is believed to have defied international rules six times to test nuclear weapons, most recently in September 2017.

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