US President Donald Trump arrived in Singapore Sunday ahead of a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the future of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
Trump flew into Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base aboard Air Force One, hoping to lay the groundwork for a nuclear deal with North Korea, directly after attending the G-7 meeting in Canada where he clashed with some of Washington’s closest allies, further straining global trade ties.
Trump’s arrival came just hours after Kim landed in the ultra-modern city-state on his longest trip overseas as head of state.
The two are due to meet Tuesday on the resort island of Sentosa for their high-stakes summit, the first-ever talks between the U.S. and North Korean leader and the culmination of a head-spinning diplomatic dance.
Such a meeting was unthinkable just months ago when Trump and Kim were exchanging insults and threats that raised fears of war in the region. But a series of diplomatic overtures involving North Korea, South Korea and the United States reduced tensions and led Trump in March to quickly accept Kim’s invitation to meet.
One of the main factors behind the de-escalation was Moon Jae-in taking the presidency in May last year. Moon has long been an advocate for peace and ending the outstanding state of war between the two countries which has been in place since a truce was agreed on in 1953 to halt the Korean War.
The breakthrough between the two countries began when North Korea sent athletes and sports teams to the Winter Olympics in South Korea earlier this year which then resulted in meetings between senior officials from both nations, placing pressure on Washington and Trump to de-escalate.
As leaders and their delegations arrived in Singapore, Pope Francis said Sunday he hoped the summit in Singapore between U.S. President Trump and North Korea leader Kim will lead to peace for Korea.
“I want, once more, to offer the beloved people of Korea a special thought of friendship and prayer that the talks which will take place in the coming days in Singapore can contribute to the development of a positive path that guarantees a peaceful future for the Korean peninsula and for the whole world,” the pope said in his regular Sunday address.
Trump and his aides insist that a US-led “maximum pressure” campaign of the toughest-ever economic sanctions, diplomatic action and military threats are what has drawn Kim to the negotiating table.
He has frequently boasted of his negotiating prowess as a former real estate developer, and his ability to read people, even though his businesses have declared multiple bankruptcies.
He said Thursday that he didn’t think he had to prepare very much for the summit and that “it’s about attitude.” But some US officials have questioned whether Trump was doing enough to get up to speed.
Trump told reporters in Canada Saturday any agreement with Kim would be “spur of the moment,” underscoring the uncertain outcome of what he called a “mission of peace.”