By Lee Sae-bom and Kim Hyo-jin
Raising both tensions and expectations for a possible “deal of the century,” leaders of the United States and North Korea have arrived in Singapore well ahead of their official showdown on Tuesday to ensure what U.S. President Donald Trump called a “one-time shot” for peace does not go wasted.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ventured the longest flight out of his country - 4,700 kilometers (2,920 miles) - on a plane leased from China to arrive in Singapore on Sunday afternoon.
Trump cut short his two-day Group of Seven summit in Quebec and landed in Singapore late in the evening. The St. Regis Hotel where Kim and his entourage are staying is just a 10-minute drive from the Shangri-La Hotel where Trump is residing. They officially meet from 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday at Capella Hotel. Kim met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Sunday evening and Trump is separately meeting the head of the host country on Monday.
Before leaving the G7 summit, Trump said the Singapore talks “may not work out,” but he felt “confident that Kim wants to do something great for his people.” He called it a “one-time shot” and will be able to know “within the first minutes” if the North Korean counterpart is serious about denuclearization. The two will start off with a two-hour tete-a-tete with just the interpreters present before an expanded meeting.
All of the security and foreign members from both states are in Singapore. The 100-odd North Korean entourage, when counting the security team, includes top brass Vice-Chairman of the Party Central Committee Kim Yong-chul, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, and Kim Yo-jong, Kim’s sister who acts as de facto chief of staff. Key officials from Washington include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, and chief of staff John Kelly.
Earlier Trump said he could sign a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War in Singapore. Nam Gwan-pyo, a deputy director of South Korea’s National Security Office, arrived in Singapore to stand by. The Blue House downplayed the possibility of a three-way summit for a landmark declaration of ending the Korean War armistice. President Moon Jae-in, however, reportedly is keeping his schedule free until Wednesday.