Trump arrives in Singapore for historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Win McNamee/Getty Images(PAYA LEBAR, Singapore) — President Donald Trump has arrived in Singapore for a landmark summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump aboard Air Force One touched down at Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base around 8:21 p.m. local time and was greeted by Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
Trumps, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, got Singapore several hours after Kim Jong Un arrived. Trump waved as he emerged from Air Force One and briefly spoked with Balakrishnan and other dignitaries on hand.
Asked by reporters how he was feeling, Trump said, “very good” before getting into his presidential limousine and departing the airport for his hotel.
Trump and Kim, two of the world’s most unpredictable leaders, are scheduled to meet Tuesday at the luxury Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island to discuss North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development programs.
The United States has imposed various economic sanctions against North Korea over its weapons program in recent years. Since taking office last year, Trump has been hoping to secure a deal with North Korea in which Kim would relinquish his nuclear weapons.
The White House announced the upcoming nuclear summit last month, but diplomatic peace didn’t last long. Kim threatened to pull back from the meeting and criticized the United States with typical, fiery rhetoric. In response, Trump called off the planned summit in an official signed letter.
A week later, Trump announced that the summit is back on after a North Korean envoy hand-delivered him a letter from Kim.
Trump left for Singapore on Saturday, after meeting with world leaders in Canada for the Group of Seven, or G7, summit.
In a series of tweets posted while still en route to Asia, Trump appeared to be optimistic about the meeting’s prospects.
“I am on my way to Singapore where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the World. It will certainly be an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong-un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before…” the tweet reads. “…Create peace and great prosperity for his land. I look forward to meeting him and have a feeling that this one-time opportunity will not be wasted!”
Earlier, Trump told reporters he will be undertaking a “mission of peace” as he heads into “unknown territory in the truest sense.”
He described the highly-anticipated meeting as a “one-time shot” for Kim, but told reporters he thinks “it’s going to work out very well.”
“I think I’ll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen,” Trump said. “And if I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time. I don’t want to waste his time.”
North Korea’s nuclear ambitions date back decades
North Korea evolved into the nuclear-armed enigma it is today long before Trump took the White House. In fact, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and its development of long-range rocket systems have been three generations in the making. And the country’s standing as a nuclear-weapon-possessing state has even been etched into its constitution.
Kim Il Sung, the country’s founder, who ruled from its establishment in 1948 until his death in 1994, dreamed of an intercontinental ballistic missile as the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons against the North during the Korean War.
The Soviet Union, Pyongyang’s ally and sponsor, began training North Korean scientists and engineers in the 1950s, giving them the “basic knowledge” to initiate a nuclear program, according to the American Security Project, a nonprofit nonpartisan public policy and research organization based in Washington, D.C.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the death of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il succeeded his father amid a dire famine that killed up to 2.5 million North Koreans. To protect the state, the new leader developed the songun, or military first, doctrine, under which the military’s access to resources is prioritized.
“In this sense, the military is not just an institution designed to perform the function of defending the country from external hostility,” South Korean scholar Han S. Park wrote in a 2007 paper. “Instead, it provides all of the other institutions of the government with legitimacy.”
In July 2006, North Korea tested the Taepodong-2, its first missile that could, in theory, reach parts of the United States. The test failed. Three months later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device near the village of Punggye-ri.
Kim Jong Il died at the end of 2011 and his second son, Kim Jong Un, took power of the reclusive state.
In April 2013, Kim announced a policy of co-developing North Korea’s economy and nuclear weapons program to reinforce his regime’s domestic, diplomatic, economic and security interests, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Since then, his regime has continued to develop intermediate and long-range ballistic missiles, while staging a series of nuclear tests. Kim is believed to have defied international rules six times to test nuclear weapons, most recently in September 2017.
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