SINGAPORE: US President Donald Trump said Tuesday there had been a “lot of progress” in his historic talks with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, and the pair were expected to sign a document together.
The first-ever summit between sitting leaders of the two Cold War foes went “better than anybody could have expected”, Trump said as he strolled in the gardens of a Singapore hotel side-by-side with Kim.
Earlier, the pair shared warm words and a historic handshake as they sought to confront a nuclear stand-off and enmity stretching back decades.
The two men shook hands for several seconds beneath the white-washed walls of an upscale hotel in neutral Singapore, Trump reaching out to touch the North Korean leader on his right shoulder, before sitting down for a half-day of meetings with major ramifications for the region and the world.
The encounter was unthinkable just months ago, when fears of war mounted amid missile tests and verbal insults.
As they sat down for their tete-a-tete, the US leader — who had said he would know “within the first minute” if a deal would be possible — predicted a “terrific relationship” with Kim.
For his part, the North’s leader referred to the two countries’ history of war and acrimony, but noted the fact of their meeting showed they could overcome the past.
Sitting across from Trump at a small side table, Kim told the US president through a translator: “It was not easy to get here.”
“The past worked as fetters on our limbs and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward,” he went on, his listener looking him in the eye and nodding. “But we overcame all of them and we are here today.”
Trump responded: “That’s true” before another handshake — smiling this time — and a thumbs-up from the US president.
In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in watched live on television, telling his ministers, he “could hardly sleep last night”.
After huddling for around 40 minutes, Trump and Kim were joined by senior advisors before breaking for lunch, where prawn cocktail, short-rib confit, soy-braised cod, and vanilla ice-cream were among the options.
The imagery for the high-stakes meeting was undoubtedly positive and Kim Yong-hyun, professor at Dongguk University in Seoul said: “The atmosphere of the summit looks very good.”
“It will be hard for this meeting to agree on specific deals but it carries considerable significance as a starting point,” he said.—AFP