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Trump, Kim Jong Un arrive in Singapore, as world watches

Sheetal Sukhija - Monday 11th June, 2018

SINGAPORE - All eyes are set to be trained on Singapore, where the most highly anticipated diplomatic summit in over a decade is set to unfold this week.

On Sunday, the world watched closely as the U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore, ahead of their historic summit, scheduled for Tuesday.

First, Kim Jong Un touched down in the city-state with his entourage, landing in an Air China 747, which normally carries the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Then, hours later, Trump landed aboard Air Force One. 

Ahead of their arrival, journalists tried to speak with officials from all sides to get some information about the scheduled arrivals.

According to reports, three aircraft took off from Pyongyang to head to Singapore, including an Ilyushin transport plane which was presumed to be carrying Kim Jong Un's armoured limousine. 

Following which, an Air China 747 landed at Singapore’s commercial airport amid huge security precautions and was believed to be carrying the North Korean leader.

However, reporters were surprised when a Soviet-era Ilyushin 62, which is Kim Jong Un's personal jet, also took to the air.

Even as reporters scrambled to figure out which aircraft the young North Korean leader had arrived in, Singapore's foreign minister uploaded a photo on Instagram, in which he was seen greeting Kim Jong Un, who was seen to have arrived in the Air China 747.

Kim Jong Un’s motorcade arrived at the St Regis Hotel, where North Korean cameramen were already stationed.

The leader arrived in a Maybac.

With the summit grabbing global headlines following the dramatic turn from hostilities to diplomacy this year, about 3,000 journalists from across the world are estimated to be tracking the moves made by both the controversial leaders until the summit ends.

Kim Jong Un was said to have met Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after he arrived,

Five hours after Kim Jong Un’s arrival in the Southeast Asian city-state, and 36 hours before his high stakes meeting, Trump arrived at Singapore's Paya Lebar Air Base from Canada on Air Force One.

The U.S. President was greeted by Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. 

Before climbing into his limousine and heading to the hotel, Trump briefly told reporters that he feels "very good" about the summit.

Trump touched down in Singapore after concluding a contentious G7 summit, which witnessed the U.S. President locking horns with heads of America’s closest allies over controversial trade tariffs imposed by his administration.

The combative meetings in Canada ended with Trump retracting his endorsement of the final statement from the G7.

After leaving Quebec City, where leaders of the Group of Seven nations met for the summit, Trump tweeted that he wasn’t endorsing the final statement and even publicly slammed the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “very dishonest and weak.”

Trump lashed out at Trudeau’s statement afterward that Canada will not be "pushed around" and will go through with retaliatory tariffs. 

While America’s trade dispute with close U.S. allies continues to intensify, Trump is set to focus his efforts on cracking a breakthrough in Singapore - where he will become the first ever sitting U.S. President to meet a leader from North Korea.

The first face-to-face between the two leaders, who have in the past 18 months, traded increasingly dangerous threats and even personal insults, is set to take place on Tuesday on the resort island of Sentosa.

According to officials, the U.S. is hoping that the summit will kickstart a process that will eventually lead to the denuclearization of the reclusive nation, which has threatened Washington with a nuclear war before surprisingly changing tracks earlier this year and calling for a face-to-face meeting with Trump. 

North Korea began the year 2018 with a complete reversal of a diplomatic strategy that it has followed for years now, and make efforts to improve relations with its rival and neighbor South Korea.

The Kim Jong Un-led country sent delegates and even a team to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Then, in March, Trump, who received a personal invitation from Kim Jong Un to meet in person, quickly accepted the invitation, despite some hesitation from his National Security team.

However, since then, Trump has sometimes touted a potential breakthrough with the reclusive nuclear nation, and at times hesitated - even cancelling the summit two weeks back, only to reinstate plans hours later.

Experts around the world have watched the diplomatic scrambling that has unfolded since then, to ascertain which side would enter the meeting on Tuesday with an upper hand.

While the U.S. will be aiming at getting North Korea to take irreversible and internationally verifiable steps towards abandoning its nuclear weapons, North Korea is believed to be hoping for a relief from the crippling economic sanctions and receive some aid and investment to stabilize the crumbling economy.

In a statement on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis clarified, “Only when steps begin to be taken in that direction will North Korea "receive relief" from the grip of UN sanctions.

However, over the last week, as expectations from the summit, within and outside the U.S. grew, Trump and his team have tried to play down the possibility of striking an immediate breakthrough towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Trump has described the summit as a "get-to-know-you situation,” and has repeatedly stressed through the last week that the summit might just lead to the beginning of a process towards that aim, adding, "It's going to be a process."

Trump has also signalled that the leaders could sign an agreement to formally end the Korean War, by replacing the armistice signed in 1953 with a peace treaty. 

Speaking to reporters in Canada on the sidelines of the G7 summit, Trump also said that if he thinks things are going badly, he will walk out of the meeting.

Adding that if things go well, Kim Jong Un could even receive an invitation to the White House.

He also stressed that while he felt optimistic about his meeting with Kim Jong Un, it would be a "one-time shot" for the North Korean leader.

Trump said on Saturday, "I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people, and he has that opportunity. And he won't have that opportunity again. It's never going to be there again. He's got an opportunity, the likes of which I think almost - if you look into history - very few people have ever had. He can take that nation, with those great people, and truly make it great. So, it's a one-time - it's a one-time shot. And I think it's going to work out very well."

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