World

S’pore to host US-N. Korea summit

Trump says his 'highly anticipated' meeting with Kim will take place here on June 12

US President Donald Trump said yesterday he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore for a first-ever summit between the leaders of the two countries.

"The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!" Mr Trump said on Twitter.

The two leaders are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons development and testing programme, which has deepened long-seated tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Mr Trump's announcement came just hours after three Americans who had been held prisoner in North Korea arrived at a United States military base outside Washington, having been released by Mr Kim.

Mr Trump said on their arrival that he believed Mr Kim wanted to bring North Korea "into the real world" and had high hopes for their planned meeting, which would be the first between a serving US president and a North Korean leader.

"I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful," Mr Trump said.

"My proudest achievement will be - this is part of it - when we denuclearise that entire peninsula."

Singapore had emerged as the most likely venue for a summit between the two leaders after Mr Trump ruled out holding it at the heavily fortified demilitarised zone between North and South Korea.

DIPLOMATIC ACHIEVEMENT

The release of the prisoners gave the US leader a chance to tout a diplomatic achievement just a day after his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal drew heavy criticism from European allies and others.

"I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this and allowing them to go," Mr Trump told reporters.

The three men are Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul, detained in 2015; Mr Kim Sang Duk, also known as Tony Kim, who spent a month teaching at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was arrested in 2017; and Mr Kim Hak Song, who also taught at PUST and was detained last year.

North Korean state media said they were arrested either for subversion or "hostile acts" against the government.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that while there was "reason for some optimism" about the Kim-Trump summit, the US troop presence in South Korea would not be part of initial negotiations.

There was also no sign that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit had cleared up the question of whether North Korea would be willing to bargain away nuclear missiles that might threaten the US.

Mr Trump has credited his "maximum pressure" campaign for drawing North Korea to the table and has vowed to keep sanctions in place until Pyongyang takes steps to denuclearise.

But North Korea's former spy chief Kim Yong Chul said in a toast to Mr Pompeo: "We have perfected our nuclear capability. It is our policy to concentrate all efforts into economic progress... This is not the result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside." - REUTERS

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