Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Will North Korea agree to complete denuclearisation?

Will North Korea agree to complete denuclearisation?

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sit down today for an unprecedented summit that has raised hopes of progress on the troubled Korean peninsula. Beyond the impact on both leaders' political fortunes, the summit could shape the fate of countless people - the citizens of impoverished North Korea, the tens of millions living in the shadow of the North's nuclear threat, and millions more worldwide.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Trump reaffirmed during a phone call Monday that he will push for the resolution of the abduction issue during the summit, following his pledge during a meeting with Abe in Washington last week.

And Kim's commitments did not appear to go beyond what he already pledged to do in April when he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in along their countries' border.

After he took office in January 2017, Trump took a hard line against North Korea, rolling out a campaign of severe United Nations sanctions and trade blockades dubbed "maximum pressure" to get Pyongyang to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

When Trump met former North Korean military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol at the White House two weeks ago, the president said they didn't discuss human rights, underscoring that it was not a primary concern.

Aware that the eyes of the world were on a moment many people never expected to see, Kim said many of those watching would think it was a scene from a "science fiction movie".

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It's not clear what the United States side has been able to extract from the North Koreans in terms of their willingness to get rid of their nuclear weapons or allow inspectors into the country to catalogue the scale of their program.

But some question why Kim should trust any guarantees given Trump's history of pulling out of accords - most recently the painstakingly negotiated Iran nuclear deal.

But a trade representative from Pyongyang issued an order on June 9 that there should be no attempts to smuggle goods between China and North Korea and that officials had to report traders' locations every hour during this period, the source said.

North Korea, however, has shown little appetite for surrendering nuclear weapons it considers vital to the survival of Kim's dynastic rule.

A U.S. official confirmed to CNN Trump's departure was moved up by more than 12 hours because Kim set his own departure for shortly after the summit, as first reported by Bloomberg.

In the lead-up to the summit, U.S. and North Korean officials were convening contentious final-hour negotiations in a Ritz Carlton hotel here in a bid to narrow gaps on key aspects of the meeting.

Tuesday's meeting, convened at a luxury hotel on the island of Sentosa, comes just three months after Trump accepted North Korea's invitation for talks on the spot.

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Only translators will be present during the intimidate talks at the start of the summit.

"She called me and said, 'Dennis, Donald Trump is so proud of you".

Sanctions on North Korea would remain in place until that had happened, Pompeo said.

It was a striking about-face from less than a year ago, when Trump was threatening "fire and fury" against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard". At the same time, he'd admitted he doesn't believe he requires extensive preparation to take stock of Kim.

But he has since lowered expectations, backing away from an original demand for North Korea's swift denuclearisation.

Mr Kim spent the evening before the meeting visiting some of Singapore's tourist sites.

Still, the road to the Singapore talks has been far from smooth.

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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.

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