Right Now: Trump and Kim bring in advisers after private meeting.
President Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea held the first-ever meeting between leaders of their two countries on Tuesday morning in Singapore, getting together initially without any aides as they tried to end seven decades of hostility and the threat of a nuclear confrontation.
Shortly after 9 a.m., Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim walked toward each other and shook hands before the president put his hand on Mr. Kim’s shoulder before a bevy of cameras capturing the historic moment. They then went into their private meeting with only interpreters present, emerging less than an hour later for a second gathering, this time with aides.
At stake in the meeting is the American goal of ridding North Korea of its nuclear arsenal, Mr. Kim’s desire to remove American weapons from the Korean Peninsula and to be recognized as a player on the world stage, and the international desire to ease the North’s provocations, poverty and extreme isolation.
Here’s what has happened so far:
• The leaders met Tuesday morning with Mr. Trump fresh from a clash with American allies at the Group of 7 meeting in Canada, and Mr. Kim with a little travel help from his Chinese allies.
• The two leaders first met privately for less than an hour in a get-to-know-you session before breaking off for a larger meeting with aides, searching for areas of agreement on issues that have eluded consensus for decades.
• With thousands of journalists from around the world congregating in Singapore, the media scrambled to cover Mr. Kim as he left for a Sunday night tour of the city-state. Even North Korean media broke with tradition by offering blanket coverage of Mr. Kim’s trip.
• Here are photos from Singapore.
Grappling with tough issues
American and North Korean officials worked to hammer out a joint statement the two leaders might make at the close of their talks. But it was unclear that they could do more than reach a broad, general agreement on tough questions like nuclear disarmament.
Mr. Trump told other Asian leaders he was confident about the prospects for the meeting, but the two sides may have fundamentally different understandings of some crucial issues, like “denuclearization” of the peninsula.
To American officials, that has meant Pyongyang giving up its atomic weapons program, but North Korea has suggested that it would also mean a reduction or even elimination of American arms in the region. The vast scope of North Korea’s atomic program means ending it would be the most challenging case of nuclear disarmament in history.
It is also unclear whether the Trump administration would go further than its predecessors in assuring North Korea that, in exchange for concessions, it would be secure from attack by the United States.
The meeting holds the risk of exposing unbridgeable gaps, leaving both sides fuming, and with little to show for all the fanfare. But in a tweet Tuesday morning, Mr. Trump said he was already seeing results from his approach, with North Korea changing its behavior.
Using crib notes?
President Richard M. Nixon took crib notes to his historic meeting with Mao Zedong in 1972. They briefly summarized China’s history and politics and Nixon’s own strategy for the meeting. If Mr. Trump had his own crib notes for his meeting with Mr. Kim, what might they zero in on? Here are some possibilities.
Making an appearance
Sporting a T-shirt that read “Peace Starts in Singapore,” Mr. Kim’s original American friend, Dennis Rodman, the eccentric former basketball star, flew to the country late Monday and expressed hope that Mr. Kim’s summit meeting with Mr. Trump would have “incredible success.”
Mr. Rodman also expressed thanks to Potcoin, a marijuana industry cryptocurrency that paid for the trip. The Potcoin logo was also emblazoned on his shirt.
American and North Korean officials have given no indication that Mr. Rodman will be involved in the summit in any way. And after the two leaders started their meeting, an emotional Mr. Rodman went on CNN and tearfully complained that he had been ignored by the Obama administration after visiting North Korea and trying to broker peace. He said, “I got so many death threats” after returning to the U.S.
Mr. Rodman has asserted that his friendship with Mr. Kim — who has an affinity for American basketball — and his multiple trips to North Korea in recent years helped lay the basis for the meeting between Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump. Last year Mr. Rodman presented North Korean officials with Mr. Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” and on Twitter called the president “the greatest negotiator of all time.”
Sizing up the teams
Mr. Trump’s team at the summit meeting included, among others, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff; John R. Bolton, the national security adviser; and Matthew Pottinger, the National Security Council’s top Asia hand.
The administration also recruited Sung Y. Kim, a seasoned North Korea negotiator currently serving as the American ambassador to the Philippines.
Among the North Koreans attending the summit meeting is Kim Yong-chol, a former leader of North Korea’s main spy agency, who now serves as a vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party. He had visited Mr. Trump at the White House on June 1, delivering a personal letter from Mr. Kim.
Ri Yong-ho, North Korea’s foreign minister, and Choe Son-hui, a vice foreign minister, have haggled with the United States for decades over their country’s nuclear weapons program. Ms. Choe called Vice President Mike Pence “ignorant and stupid” last month, briefly jeopardizing the summit meeting.
Also on the trip are No Kwang-chol and Kim Yo-jong. Mr. No became minister of the People’s Armed Forces during a recent reshuffle of the top military leadership.
Ms. Kim, Mr. Kim’s only sister, has been an important face of North Korea’s recent diplomatic overtures. Mr. Kim sent her to South Korea in February to invite President Moon Jae-in to a summit meeting. She is in charge of the party’s Department of Propaganda and Agitation, one of the most powerful agencies in North Korea.
Koreatown unfazed by historic summit
In Los Angeles, the Trump-Kim meeting drew muted interest across Koreatown’s businesses, bars and restaurants on Monday evening. Few places with televisions appeared to carry the news live.
At a local billiards hall in Koreatown, Yoon Hong-jung, 69, said that he was waiting to see what emerged from the meeting before he decided whether it was a good idea.
Mr. Yoon, who moved to the United States from South Korea 18 years ago, added that he had little faith that Mr. Kim had good intentions regarding nuclear disarmament.
“He’s a terrorist,” said Mr. Yoon, who still has family in South Korea. “He killed his brother. I don’t believe Kim Jong-un. He is evil.” Asked if he was interested in news coverage of the summit meeting, he pointed at the television screen; at that very moment when Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim were shown shaking hands, the programming had changed to a Korean talk show.
Breaking down the summit meeting
The meeting in Singapore took place after some fraught on-again, off-again moments.
Where would the leaders meet? Who would be there? What would be on the agenda?
We’ve put together a primer on the high-stakes talks that breaks down the key players and the key issues.
Viewing from North Korea
North Korea wasted little time reporting on Kim Jong-un’s most spectacular foreign outing.
On Tuesday, the North’s main state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, dedicated its entire front page to a report on Mr. Kim’s stroll past landmarks in Singapore on Monday evening. The newspaper carried 14 color photos, including one that showed pedestrians in Singapore treating Mr. Kim like a celebrity, taking photos of him with their cellphones. Mr. Kim waved back.
It is highly unusual for North Korea to report Mr. Kim’s activities abroad so quickly. When Mr. Kim met with the leaders of China and South Korea in recent weeks, North Korean media reported the meetings only after they were over and Mr. Kim had returned to Pyongyang, the North’s capital.
By showing Mr. Kim inspecting landmarks in Singapore, North Korean media tried to promote his image as a leader striving to modernize his decrepit country. At home, state media often shows Mr. Kim supervising the construction of pastel-colored skyscrapers and amusement parks in Pyongyang, the country’s showpiece city.