Trump, Kim welcome Singapore summit with a historic handshake
It was a mark of how far US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un have come in their diplomacy the last few months. While months ago, they were trading insults and barbs, today in Singapore, the two leaders shook hands, smiled at each other and conveyed hope. This summit's result can make a lasting change in security in Northeast Asia.
About the much-awaited summit
Kim's meeting with Trump was the first between an NKorean leader and a sitting US president. They reached what Trump calls a "one-time shot" at peace after months of bickering. A planned meeting earlier this year even stood cancelled. The US wants complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. NKorea says it's willing, but only if the US removes a "nuclear umbrella" protecting SKorea and Japan.
What does it mean for US and NKorea?
The summit is crucial for Kim, the authoritarian leader of an isolated militarized state, whose main lookouts, apart from security, are the freedom to develop his impoverished country, and an international legacy hitherto unknown to NKorea. Meanwhile, this could mark Trump's place in history if they manage to reach a breakthrough, much like how Richard Nixon's visit to China (1972) transformed the latter.
What are they expected to discuss?
Apart from denuclearization of NKorea, on the agenda is a declaration of end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which is technically still ongoing as it ended only with a truce. However, a treaty will also have to include China. After addressing the press, Kim and Trump held one-on-one talks at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island, before being joined by their senior officials.
Both leaders' reactions were in stark contrast to the past
Both leaders expressed hope about the summit. When asked how the meeting was going, Trump said, "Very good. Very, very good." "I think it's gonna be really successful and I think we will have a terrific relationship," he had earlier said. Kim echoed him. "We overcame all kinds of scepticism and speculations about this summit and I believe this is good for peace."
'After initial nerves, their body language conveyed a relaxed state'
The leaders' body language was reflective of the change their bilateral diplomacy has gone through lately. In the first meet, both initially tried to project command, but also displayed nervousness, experts said. Soon, they were shaking hands and smiling and appeared relaxed, against the odds.
Summit part of a "changed era": NKorea's KCNA news agency
This summit has marked a drastic change for NKorea and Kim, who till a few months ago was an international pariah accused of ordering the killings of his uncle, a half-brother and scores of "disloyal" officials. There's been a visible change after his April meeting with SKorean leader Moon Jae-in. At Singapore, he smiled and waved to onlookers from the waterfront.
Here's how the summit left a mark
Meanwhile, Singaporean Navy vessels and Air Force Apache choppers patrolled the venue. Fighter jets and a Gulfstream 550 aircraft circled overhead. Markets in Asia remained largely stable before the summit. While the dollar was at a three-week high, the MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares was largely unchanged. Both Kim and Trump are set to leave Singapore today, after the summit ends.