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Trump, Kim to focus on denuclearization, security in historic summit

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are set to meet Tuesday in Singapore for a historic summit to discuss ways to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and end decades of hostility between the two countries.

Trump and Kim are scheduled to start their talks at 9 a.m. local time at Capella Singapore, a luxury hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, in what will be the first summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

In focus is whether the two leaders will reach an agreement on the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization in exchange for U.S. security assurances to North Korea.

“President Trump recognizes Chairman Kim’s desire for security and is prepared to ensure that a North Korea free of weapons of mass destruction is also a secure North Korea,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday, in reference to Kim’s title as chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

In the historic encounter, Trump and Kim are also likely to exchange views on how to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War, which halted by an armistice, not a peace  treaty.

The armistice — signed by the U.S.-led United Nations Command, North Korea and Chinese People’s Volunteer Army — has left the main combatants technically in a state of war.

(Getty/Kyodo)

Analysts are watching to see if Kim’s offer of a meeting with Trump represents a strategic decision to pursue a new relationship with the United States or is a tactical move to win sanctions relief or other concessions without actually giving up his country’s nuclear weapons.

“We have to get denuclearization,” Trump said Saturday. Calling Tuesday’s summit a “one-time shot” for Kim, Trump said, “I think it’s very important for North Korea and South Korea and Japan, and the world, and the United States.”

Japan, for its part, is anxious to know how Kim will respond to Trump’s push to address North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s — which Pyongyang views as a “settled” issue — as well as its short- and medium-range missiles capable of striking the Japanese archipelago.

The Trump administration has been calling for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. U.S. officials said they would like Kim to commit to denuclearization on a timeline, hopefully by January 2021, the end of Trump’s first term.

In a prelude to the summit, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In, meeting in the truce village of Panmunjeom on April 27, expressed their commitment to the “complete” denuclearization of the peninsula and agreed to declare an end to the Korean War by the end of the year.

Dismissing demands for unilateral disarmament, North Korea has sought “phased and synchronous measures,” an incremental, action-for-action process in which Pyongyang secures benefits for each move it takes toward denuclearization.

The armistice — signed by the U.S.-led United Nations Command, North Korea and Chinese People’s Volunteer Army — has left the main combatants technically in a state of war.

Given the gap in the proposed steps and the speed of denuclearization, Trump has lowered expectations for a swift resolution to the issue. The president said he will start a “process,” meaning it would require more talks to strike a deal with Kim.

Asked by reporters Saturday about an expected outcome of Tuesday’s summit, Trump said, “At a minimum, I do believe, at least we’ll have met each other. We will have seen each other. Hopefully we will have liked each other and we’ll start that process (of dialogue).”

Trump said earlier he could invite Kim to visit the United States, possibly the White House, if the summit goes well.

All – Kyodo News+

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