- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2018

SINGAPORE — President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will begin their historic summit with a one-on-one meeting, focusing on their personal rapport as they seek a deal for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, an administration official said Monday.

The length of the initial private meeting has not been determined, said the official, but the two leaders will likely make that decision depending on how their talk unfolds.

A bilateral meeting of the U.S. and North Korean delegations will follow, said the official.

In a final round of pre-summit preparation, top negotiators from the two sides met Monday at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

The meeting included North Korea Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui and U.S. negotiators Allison Hooker, the National Security Council’s director for Korea, and Randall Schriver, assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Mr. Trump and the entire U.S. team was looking forward to Tuesday’s summit.

SEE ALSO: Kim arrives for summit with security force, private food supply

“We have had substantive and detailed meetings to date, including this morning with the North Koreans,” he said.

The issues on the table remain stubborn and complex for two countries that have been at odds for nearly 70 years.

North Korea possesses nuclear weapons and long-range missiles believed to be capable of hitting anywhere in the U.S.

A confrontation between North Korea and the U.S. has been brewing for decades. Mr. Trump is offering security assurances and economic development in return for the complete dismantling of Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal.

Momentum appeared to be building for a deal. North Korean state-run news reported Monday that Mr. Kim was seeking denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in response to a “changed era.”

State-run news said the summit would address “wide-ranging and profound views on the issue of establishing new DPRK-U.S. relations, the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula, the issue of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern, as required by the changed era, will be exchanged at the DPRK-U.S. summit talks.”

The statement was delivered to North Koreans by Ri Chun-hee, the country’s most famous news anchor and the face of Mr. Kim’s propaganda machine.

The report appeared to put Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump on the same page for the summit.

Mr. Trump also has called this moment a rare opportunity for change in North Korea. He has said the summit is a “one-shot” chance to resolve the nuclear threat and bring peace and prosperity to the reclusive and poverty-stricken communist country.

Although a promising development ahead of the historic talks, Mr. Kim’s commitment to the goal and an agreement on the terms and extent of denuclearization remained in question.

Still, the rhetoric out of Pyongyang bolstered Mr. Trump’s optimism heading into the first ever meeting between a U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

“We’ve got [a] very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I just think it’s going to work out very nicely,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

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