Kim thanks S'pore for 'sincere efforts' to host summit

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday, where they discussed relations between their countries, as well as developments in North Korea and the region. Mr Lee also wished Mr Kim success for tomorrow
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana yesterday, where they discussed relations between their countries, as well as developments in North Korea and the region. Mr Lee also wished Mr Kim success for tomorrow's summit with US President Donald Trump.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

N. Korean leader meets PM Lee for the first time ahead of historic meeting with Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday thanked Singapore for hosting the historic summit between him and US President Donald Trump tomorrow.

Shortly after arriving in Singapore in the afternoon yesterday, Mr Kim, who is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission in North Korea, the nation's highest decision-making body, met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the first time.

 

The two leaders exchanged broad smiles and warm thank-yous when they met at the Istana.

"The entire world is focusing on the historic summit between the DPRK and the US, and thanks to your sincere efforts... we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit," Mr Kim told Mr Lee through an interpreter. "And I would like to thank you for that."

DPRK refers to the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

He added that Singapore's efforts to host the summit would go down in history if the meeting was successful.

Mr Lee, for his part, thanked Mr Kim for coming to Singapore, the farthest the North Korean leader has travelled out of his country since assuming power in 2011.

 
 
 
 

"Thank you for also asking to hold the summit in Singapore," added Mr Lee.

Singapore has been following developments on the Korean peninsula closely for a very long time, the Prime Minister told the North Korean leader. "We have watched the struggles, and the sacrifices and the progress of the people," he said.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump will finally come face to face at the Capella hotel on Sentosa, with both leaders looking to hammer out a deal that may lead to North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for security guarantees.

Mr Lee is slated to meet Mr Trump today at the Istana.The US President arrived in Singapore last night aboard Air Force One, which landed at Paya Lebar Airbase. He flew in from Canada, where he had cut short his attendance at the Group of Seven (G-7) summit.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was on hand to receive Mr Trump, just as he had earlier in the day welcomed Mr Kim at Changi Airport.

Dr Balakrishnan and Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was also on hand to greet the North Korean leader at the airport, along with Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Defence Maliki Osman and Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information as well as Culture, Community and Youth Sim Ann, were at the Istana when Mr Kim met Mr Lee.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Mr Kim and Mr Lee discussed relations between their countries, as well as developments in North Korea and the region, including recent positive developments on the Korean peninsula.

Mr Lee, it said, complimented "the bold and admirable decision" by Mr Kim and Mr Trump to come together for the summit.

Mr Lee also wished Mr Kim success for the summit, and expressed the hope that it would improve prospects for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in the wider region.

One of the few countries with diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the United States, Singapore was tapped to host the summit because of its neutrality and its record for security.

The Republic is no stranger to hosting historic summits.

In 2015, it served as the location for the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. It was the first time that leaders from both sides met since Taiwan's separation from the mainland in 1949.

Mr Trump has described the Singapore summit as a "one-time shot" for peace.

Just before he made his early exit from the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, Mr Trump told reporters: "I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people and he has that opportunity. He won't have that opportunity again."

"It's a one-time shot and I think it's going to work out very well," he added.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2018, with the headline 'Kim thanks S'pore for 'sincere efforts' to host summit'. Print Edition | Subscribe