White House says Trump plans early summit departure

Mike Pompeo draws firm line on North Korea as summit hangs in balance

Trump-Kim summit: US president will leave early as talks 'moving rapidly'

"The underlying driver is a transformational process of Kim Jong-un leading North Korea into a new place in the region and the world", said John Delury, a professor of Chinese studies at Yonsei University in Seoul.

In the hours before the summit began, Trump expressed optimism about prospects for the first-ever meeting of sitting United States and North Korean leaders, while Pompeo injected a note of caution whether Kim would prove to be honest about his willingness to denuclearise.

Trump and Kim planned to meet one on one for most of an hour- joined only by interpreters.

Trump and Kim will be making history here on Tuesday morning when they shake hands for the first time.

The hotel's lavish 47 Singapore dollar ($35) per person buffet breakfast costs about the same as what most North Koreans earn in a month.

Addressing reporters on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to keep expectations in check, saying: "We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks".

But Pompeo's comments sought to reaffirm the high benchmark the U.S. is setting for Trump and Kim to reach an agreement.

North Korea tends to keep its official government commentary on the pages of Rodong Sinmun, which routinely threatened nuclear annihilation of the American mainland a year ago.

U.S. planes dropped approximately 635,000 tons of explosives on North Korea (more in three years than they did in the entire Pacific theater of World War II), including 32,000 tons of napalm, according to historian Charles Armstrong. The US may also look for North Korea to declare the existence and location of all the elements of its nuclear program.

Trump spoke only briefly in public on Monday, forecasting a "nice" outcome. The White House said that first meeting will be followed by an expanded meeting with their advisers as well as a working lunch. "For the time being we can not be optimistic about the United States' behaviour, and the government of North Korea must approach this issue with absolute vigilance", he added. The US President has spurned offers from Japan to more closely coordinate a unified position ahead of the summit and aides worry he has not internalized the information presented to him in briefings.

Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore on Sunday, both staying at luxurious and heavily guarded hotels less than half a mile apart, with Trump at the Shangri-La Hotel and Kim at the St. Regis Hotel.

The previous United States stance, said Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation, was that "we don't deploy a president to negotiate a treaty, we deploy a president to sign a treaty where we know where every piece of punctuation is on that piece of paper". We may finally be on the verge of such a change, or we may not, but North Korean denuclearisation can only work within the context of this broader systemic change.

Inside, they sat alongside each other against a backdrop of North Korean and U.S. flags, with Kim beaming broadly as the United States president gave him a thumbs up. Rather, the North Koreans prefer a phased, synchronised and comprehensive solution that would fold denuclearisation into a much larger package of diplomatic and economic normalisation.

Less than a year ago, Trump was threatening "fire and fury" against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a "mentally deranged US dotard". And how will Trump react if he does?

Trump also tweeted: "Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly. but in the end, that doesn't matter".

The North Korean news agency KCNA said the meeting signalled "a changed era" in bilateral ties with Washington. He declined, however, to reveal any details of the preliminary discussions being held Monday between US and North Korean officials.

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