SINGAPORE—President Donald Trump touched down at Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base at 8:21 p.m. local time on Sunday, June 10.
The president is expected to meet Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on June 11, before the summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.
“I’ll be on a mission of peace, and we will carry in, really—in my heart, we’re going to be carrying the hearts of millions of people, people from all over the world,” Trump said in an impromptu press briefing before leaving the G7 in Canada.
“We have to get denuclearization. We have to get something going. We really think that North Korea will be a tremendous place in a very short period of time. And we appreciate everything that’s going on. We appreciate the working together with North Korea.”
Kim arrived in Singapore several hours before Trump, landing at Singapore Changi Airport.
Trump’s arrival in Singapore came off the back of a tense G7, where he dug his heels in about unfair trade, particularly with Canada.
“Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!” Trump wrote on Twitter the morning he left Canada for Singapore.
Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to Singapore with Trump and is expected to travel to Japan, South Korea, and China directly following the summit to coordinate the outcome of the meeting with the regional allies.
Pompeo said at a White House press briefing on June 7 that Trump won’t budge on anything less than the complete denuclearization of North Korea.
Pompeo said the administration will look for a deal backed by Congress to ensure permanency—Kim Jong Un would be assured that Trump’s successor could not easily scrap a deal without approval from lawmakers.
Trump hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the White House on June 7, where he promised Abe he will bring up the issue of the Japanese citizens that North Korea kidnapped years ago and still holds.
He said that although, the “maximum pressure” campaign is still in effect regarding sanctions on North Korea, “We don’t use the term anymore because we’re going into a friendly negotiation.”
“Perhaps after that negotiation I will be using it again. You’ll know how well we do in the negotiation. If you hear me saying we’re going to use ‘maximum pressure,’ you’ll know the negotiation did not do well, frankly.”
He also said that the United States is holding back some 300 sanctions in the lead up to the summit.
“They have to denuke. If they don’t denuclearize, that will not be acceptable. We cannot take sanctions off,” Trump said.
He said more than one meeting with North Korea will be necessary to complete a meaningful deal, but the summit is a start.
“The minimum would be relationship. You’d start at least a dialogue. Because, you know, as a deal person, I’ve done very well with deals. What you want to do is start that,” Trump said before lift-off to Singapore.
“Now, I’d like to accomplish more than that. But at a minimum, I do believe, at least we’ll have met each other. We will have seen each other. Hopefully, we will have liked each other and we’ll start that process.”
The series of events that led up to the Singapore summit started in early 2017 when Trump started his maximum pressure campaign on North Korea, rallying the international community to impose strict sanctions on the hermit state.
Pyongyang remained unfazed for much of 2017 and continued aggressive development of its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program. But in the first days of 2018, Kim signaled a change of course.
A flurry of meetings and activity followed Kim’s announcement in January, culminating in a personal request to meet with Trump on March 8. The White House responded, and Pompeo went to Pyongyang in early April and again on May 9.
On May 10, Pompeo, alongside Trump, greeted three Americans freed by North Korea after being held hostage for several years.
Trump said his greatest achievement “will be to denuclearize the whole [Korean] peninsula,” after he had met with the three men on the plane before they disembarked.
Trump canceled the summit in a letter to Kim on May 24 after communications soured. However, it was back on by June 1, the same day one of Kim’s top aides, Kim Yong Chol, hand-delivered a letter from Kim to Trump at the White House.
Trump said the letter was a greeting of sorts. “It was really a very warm letter, a very nice letter. I appreciated it very much.”