Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have made history, becoming the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet and shake hands, as they seek to end a tense decades-old nuclear stand-off.
The two men strode toward each other and shared the momentous handshake beneath the white-washed walls of an upscale hotel in neutral Singapore, before sitting down for a half-day of meetings with major ramifications for the world.
They shook hands for several seconds, Trump reaching out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder.
Trump, who had insisted he would know “within the first minute” if Kim was serious about denuclearisation, said he “felt really great” and that it was “an honour” to meet the North Korean dictator.
“We’re going to have a great discussion,” Trump said. “A tremendous success. We will have a great relationship.”
Kim says through an interpreter that it “was not easy to get here” and that there “were obstacles but we overcame them to be here.”
Joined only by their translators, the two leaders are now in a private discussion before they are expected to be joined by their aides for a working lunch.
The extraordinary summit was unthinkable only months ago.
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Then, the two nuclear-armed foes appeared on the verge of conflict, as Kim conducted nuclear and missile tests and the two leaders slung personal insults.
Trump had cajoled the international community to exert “maximum pressure” to buckle Kim’s regime and threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang did not disarm.
For his part, Kim called the US leader “mentally deranged” and a “dotard” as he fired off a series of provocative weapons tests.
That seemed a distant memory amid the palms of the ultra-exclusive Capella Hotel.
It is a potentially legacy-defining meeting for both men — comparable to president Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, or Ronald Reagan’s summit 1986 with Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik.
And it is part of what Trump calls a “one-time” offer to resolve the stand-off through diplomacy.
“We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!” Trump tweeted shortly before departing for the summit, before also revealing Director of the United States National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, had suffered a heart attack.
Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly….but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
Our Great Larry Kudlow, who has been working so hard on trade and the economy, has just suffered a heart attack. He is now in Walter Reed Medical Center.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
More to come.