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(5th LD) Trump, Kim arrive in Singapore for their historic summit

All News 21:40 June 10, 2018

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

SINGAPORE, June 10 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore on Sunday as they are set to hold a historic summit this week over Pyongyang's denuclearization.

Aboard a Chinese plane, Kim arrived at Changi Airport Sunday afternoon amid tight security, after taking the longest flight for an overseas trip since he took office in late 2011.

Hours after Kim's arrival, Trump touched down at Paya Lebar Air Base, a military air base, after attending the Group of Seven leaders' meeting in Quebec, Canada.

Trump and Kim are set to hold an unprecedented summit Tuesday at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island over the North's denuclearization in exchange for security assurance for the North's regime.

These photos show North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump. They are scheduled to hold a summit on June 12, 2018, in Singapore. The photo at left was provided by Singapore's communications and information ministry, and the photo at right, provided by AFP, shows Trump waving his hand in Canada ahead of his departure to Singapore. (Yonhap)

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.

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.

He also met with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong at the presidential palace of Istana, where he said, "The entire world is watching" the summit.

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

The rare summit comes after Kim and Trump exchanged harsh rhetoric and insults last year, with Washington saying that military options were on the table.

But the rapprochement driven by the PyeongChang Winter Olympics set the tone for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Trump accepted Kim's offer for a summit in early March, which was relayed by aides to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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 Koreas technically at war.

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)

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 on May 26. Kim and Moon also held talks in April.

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.

For the summit with the U.S., 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.

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


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