President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un concluded an extraordinary nuclear summit Tuesday with the us president pledging unspecified "security guarantees" to the North and Kim recommitting to the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".
Critics of the summit leapt at the handshake and the moonlight stroll Kim took Monday night along the glittering Singapore waterfront, saying it was further evidence that Trump was helping legitimize Kim on the world stage as an equal of the USA president. Talking to his hosts and smiling, he waved at the crowds jostling for pictures of him.
The meeting, long sought by Pyongyang, will be the first ever between a serving U.S. president and a North Korean leader, and will focus on the nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles the North has spent decades developing.
"Denuclearization means CVID for the United States, but from the viewpoint of North Korea, denuclearization means the denuclearization of the entire peninsula", said Masahiro Kohara, professor at the University of Tokyo.
Commenting for the first time on the summit, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency said the two sides would exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" to re-set relations.
Trump was joined by Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, and John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, for the expanded talks, while Kim's team included former military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho and Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed the preparatory talks had been moving rapidly but played down the possibility of a quick breakthrough.
While the pressure is on for the talks to deliver concrete progress in this area, observers say this is a high bar unlikely to be achieved in just a few hours of talks.
"President Moon and President Trump agreed Trump and Kim will be able to make a great achievement if the two leaders come together to find a common denominator through frank discussions", Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eu-kyeom told reporters.
When announcing the reinstatement of the June 12 U.S. -DPRK summit, Trump said, "It will be a beginning". Kim is expected to leave Singapore soon after the lunch, sources told the Post.
Discussions would focus on "the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula, the issue of realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern", KCNA said.
Even so, the summit continues to be a sensitive topic in North Korea and it is hard - even more so than usual - to get people to express opinions about it.
United States officials, allies and North Korea experts have already fretted over Trump's indication that he will follow his gut instincts in approaching talks with Kim.
Boo Seung-chan, a research fellow at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul, was equally optimistic about the outcome.
While advisers say Trump has been reviewing briefing materials, the president insists his gut instincts will matter most when he gets in the room with Kim. Meanwhile, U.S. and North Korean officials huddled at a hotel Monday ahead of the sit-down aimed at resolving a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal.
In an encouraging sign, the DPRK chose to suspend its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests on April 21.
He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing USA troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the US was "prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique, than America's been willing to provide previously".
The North Korean leader was filmed taking a late-night city tour with his entourage.
"Will that be enough?"
If the joint statement does lead to a lasting detente, it could fundamentally change the security landscape of Northeast Asia, just as former US President Richard Nixon visit to Beijing in 1972 led to the transformation of China. He continued to tweet angrily at Trudeau from Singapore, saying Monday "Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal".
Trump Optimistic on NKorea Summit Despite Differences on Ending Nuclear Standoff
After meeting privately and with aides, Trump and Kim moved into the luncheon at a long flower-bedecked table. "We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!" he wrote.