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(4th LD) N.K. leader arrives in Singapore for historic summit with Trump

All Headlines 19:54 June 10, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more info, photos throughout)

SINGAPORE, June 10 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore on Sunday, two days ahead of his planned historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump over Pyongyang's denuclearization.

The Chinese plane that carried Kim landed at Changi Airport Sunday afternoon amid tight security, as Kim is set to hold a high-stakes meeting with Trump in the city-state on Tuesday.

Clad in a Mao-style suit, Kim was welcomed by Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan at the airport, a photo uploaded on the minister's Twitter account showed.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) shakes hands with Singapore's foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan on June 10, 2018, after arriving in the city-state for a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, in this photo captured from Balakrishnan's Twitter account. (Yonhap)

Highly tightened security attested to global attention on the upcoming meeting, which comes after a year of heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats.

Police blocked roads outside Changi's VIP complex hours before Kim's arrival. Security vehicles escorted a motorcade including limousines believed to be carrying Kim to the St. Regis Hotel, where he will be staying during the rare trip.

Later in the day, Kim met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, according to the Associated Press.

North Korea's state media has yet to report Kim's trip to Singapore.

Trump is also on his way to Singapore from Canada after attending the Group of Seven leaders' meeting in Quebec. He's expected to land at Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base later in the day.

Trump and Kim are set to hold an unprecedented summit to discuss ways to dismantle the North's nuclear weapons program in exchange for security guarantees.

The U.S. has called for the North's complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, while Pyongyang hopes to get rewards and relief from tough sanctions in the process of its denuclearization.

Trump said Saturday that his upcoming meet with Kim will be a "one-time shot" to do something good for North Korean people.

Whether both sides can make progress on the issue of declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War is also one of focal points for the meeting.

Trump earlier said it is possible they will use Tuesday's meeting to sign an agreement to end the conflict. The 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, leaving the two sides technically at war.

A motorcade believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seen leaving Changi Airport in Singapore on June 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

The historic showdown between a sitting U.S. President and a North Korean leader comes after an abrupt cancellation by Trump last month.

Trump called off the expected summit with Kim last month, citing the North's "tremendous anger and open hostility."

But in a sharp turnaround, preparations for the summit resumed after Kim showed his willingness for a summit with Trump and for denuclearization at a second summit with President Moon Jae-in on May 26.

Kim's trip to Singapore marks his first overseas travel, except to China, since he took office in late 2011. Kim held summits with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March and May ahead of the meeting with Trump.

The North's leader was accompanied by a group of his key aides, including Kim Yo-jong, his younger sister, and Kim Yong-chol, a top party official, according to Singapore's communications ministry.

Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), recently visited Washington to deliver a letter from Kim to Trump.

His entourage also included Ri Su-yong, a vice WPK chairman on international affairs, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.

Pyongyang, meanwhile, dispatched three different flights in one day in an apparent attempt to divert attention and keep Kim's travel discreet for security reasons. It sent a cargo plane at dawn, followed by the Chinese jet and then his private plane.

Experts said that Kim's use of a Chinese plane seemed to take into account security concerns but also reflected warming ties between Pyongyang and Beijing following years of strained relations over the North's nuclear tests.

China, the North's main ally, apparently wants to highlight its leverage over the North in resolving the country's nuclear standoff.

Details about Kim's itinerary are not known, but he will likely spend the remaining days at the hotel focusing on last-minute preparations with his top officials for the summit.

Citing a source, Reuters reported that Kim is tentatively scheduled to depart Singapore at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

An Air China plane believed to have North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on board makes its final approach into Changi Airport in Singapore on June 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

elly@yna.co.kr
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