Singapore to Host US-North Korea Summit

By Mei Manuel, May 11, 2018 05:05 AM


On Thursday, US President Donald Trump tweeted that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be meeting for the first time in Singapore on June 12 as part of their talks regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Last year, both leaders have exchanged fiery comments over North Korea's nuclear weapons program and its capacity to reach the US. However, tensions have eased greatly since North Korea took part in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.

In his tweet, Trump said, "The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!"

The announcement came hours after three Americans, who have been held prisoner in North Korea, were flown in a US military base outside Washington after being released by Kim as a gesture ahead of the summit.

When the three Americans arrived, Trump said he believed Kim, who has led North Korea for seven years, wanted to bring North Korea "into the real world."

"I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful," Trump said. "My proudest achievement will be - this is part of it - when we denuclearize that entire peninsula."

Prior to the summit, new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has visited Pyongyang twice in recent weeks. However, there is no sign that he cleared up the question of whether North Korea will be willing to denuclearize after its leaders saw it as an important aspect of their survival.

Trump's meeting with Kim also raises new questions after he announced on Tuesday that he withdraws the US out of the 2015 Iran deal, which imposed international oversight on Iran's nuclear program. Some question as to whether North Korea may be less inclined to negotiate its own nuclear deal with the US given Trump's action on its deal with Iran.

On Wednesday, Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had spoken on the phone and the White House remarked that the two leaders

"affirmed the shared goal of North Korea abandoning its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs" and remained committed to cooperating with South Korea. Japan also worries that it may be the next target of Pyeongyang.

Meanwhile, Democratic Leader Chuch Schumer warmed Trump against going too far and too fast during the summit in Singapore. He said that Trump should insist on strong and verifiable commitments from North Korea when it disarms its nuclear program.

"I worry that this president, in his eagerness to strike a deal and get the acclaim and a photo op, will strike a quick one and a bad one, not a strong one, not a lasting one," Schumer said.

Trump has said that a US "maximum pressure" campaign to bring North Korea to the negotiating table and vowed to keep the sanctions in place until Pyeongyang makes the step to denuclearize.

Kim, prior to the summit, had promised to suspend its missile tests and shut down a nuclear bomb test site.

The selection of Singapore as the venue of the summit has also gotten some comments from some groups. Human Rights Watch described Singapore as having a "stifling" political environment with severe restrictions on "basic rights."

However, US officials have looked into other sites as a possible venue, including the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, but they have said the venues were problematic. In the case of holding it in the DMZ, it may look too much like Trump is going to Kim's turf. There are also security risks that had to be considered during the selection process.

South Korea had expressed its hopes for the summit on Thursday, saying "We welcome the North Korea-U.S. summit to be held in Singapore on June 12. We hope the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as permanent peace on the peninsula will successfully come about through this summit."

They have also announced that South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha will be meeting with Pompeo on Friday prior to the May 22nd meeting between Trump and South Korean president Moon Jae-in in Washington. It would also been the perfect opportunity to discuss the talks between the two Korean leaders.


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