North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiled and warmly shook hands more than once during his first summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday, raising hopes that one day the two countries could finally end the world’s last Cold War-era confrontation.
TV footage showed Kim in his 30s wore a pained expression on his face at the beginning of his meeting on Singapore’s resort island of Sentosa with Trump, who will turn 72 on Thursday.
(Kevin Lim/THE STRAITS TIMES/Handout)
But Kim amicably conversed with Trump even without an interpreter during a photo session after they signed a joint document at a ceremony. Kim apparently spoke with Trump in English.
The North Korean leader attended an international school in Switzerland, where he is believed to have studied English, along with German and French.
Kim was clad in a black Mao-style suit, while Trump wore a deep blue Western-style suit.
During their meeting, Kim told Trump through an interpreter, “There will be challenges ahead but we will work with Trump. We overcame all kinds of skepticism and speculations about this summit and I believe that this is good for the peace.”
The two leaders also walked on the upper deck along the open breezeway. Kim told Trump through the interpreter, “Many people will think this as a science fiction movie.”
But when he paused in front of reporters with Trump, Kim did not answer a question about whether he would give up his nuclear weapons. Kim eventually left the venue of the summit without holding a press conference.
Kim and Trump were engaged in a fiery tit-for-tat verbal exchange last year over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Later Tuesday, Trump said at a press conference that Kim is “very talented” and pledged to achieve “complete” denuclearization, which will be “verified.”
Trump added, “We can all have hope that (the Korean War) will soon end.”
The United States and North Korea remain technically in a state of war due to the 1950-1953 Korean War having ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
In the war, U.N. forces led by the United States fought alongside South Korea against North Korea, supported by China and the Soviet Union. Hostilities ceased with an armistice agreement signed on July 27, 1953, by the U.S.-led U.N. Command, North Korea and China.
At their lunch, Trump and Kim enjoyed food such as a prawn cocktail with avocado salad and beef short rib confit served with potato dauphinoise and steamed broccoli, and red wine sauce on the side, the White House said.
Trump said during the 2016 presidential election campaign that he would eat “a hamburger on a conference table” with Kim, but the traditional American food was not included in their menu.