Hopes grow for June 12 Trump-Kim summit

Hopes are growing that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet in Singapore on June 12, 2018.
Hopes are growing that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet in Singapore on June 12, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Hopes are growing that US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet in Singapore on June 12 after all.

An advance team of White House officials, tasked with preparatory work for the summit, was due to leave Washington for Singapore yesterday, while another team of United States officials crossed into North Korea for talks.

Former US ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim was summoned from his current post in the Philippines to meet North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui, The Washington Post reported.

At a White House event in Washington yesterday, Mr Trump said: "I think there is a lot of goodwill. I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done."

South Korean President Moon Jae In, after an impromptu meeting with Mr Kim on Saturday, said yesterday that he and Mr Kim had agreed that the June 12 summit "must be successfully held".

He also called for the opening of a hotline between Mr Kim and Mr Trump, and mooted a trilateral meeting with Mr Trump to formally end the Korean War, which was only halted by an armistice in 1953. Pyongyang's state media said Mr Kim had voiced his "fixed will" on the talks.

Mr Trump had abruptly cancelled the proposed summit last Thursday, citing North Korea's hostility. But after a conciliatory statement from Pyongyang, a flurry of behind-the-scenes talks and the surprise Saturday summit at Panmunjom, he changed his tune, saying: "We are looking at June 12 in Singapore. That hasn't changed. And it is moving along pretty well."

In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang endorsed the reinstatement of the June 12 summit. "We think a person-to-person encounter and dialogue between the leaders of North Korea and the US is the key to solving problems," he told South Korea's news agency Yonhap.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2018, with the headline 'Hopes grow for June 12 Trump-Kim summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe