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What happened in Singapore on the eve of Trump-Kim summit?

Tamer Fakahany
Associated Press

It’s the summit eve in Singapore. Global anticipation of the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s third-generation autocrat Kim Jong Un is close to feverish. It’s the biggest, and most mind-boggling, summit of its kind this century – and probably for several decades.

A man watches a TV screen showing file footage of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, June 11, 2018. Final preparations are underway in Singapore for Tuesday's historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim, including a plan for the leaders to kick things off by meeting with only their translators present, a U.S. official said. The signs read: " Summit between the United States and North Korea." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Imagine if President George W. Bush had met Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for face-to-face negotiations in January 2003 in Egypt instead of the U.S.-led invasion going ahead two months later and you get a sense of how remarkable this summit is.

As the hours count down to the Tuesday morning meeting, here’s a look at what happened in Singapore and the Koreas on Monday.


– Trump met Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as Kim did on Sunday, was feted at lunch with an early birthday celebration (his birthday is June 14), and then went back to his hotel, the swanky Shangri-La. Along the way, he offered “that things can work out very nicely” with North Korea.

– North Korean and American delegations met at the Ritz Carlton., not once, but twice. Last-minute bargaining, leverage hunting and final protocol details perhaps on the agenda before their bosses shake hands and sit down.

– U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefed reporters, insisting Washington is prepared to take actions to provide North Korea with “sufficient certainty” that denuclearization “is not something that ends badly for them.”

In this photo released by the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore, U.S. President Donald Trump blows out a candle on a cake celebrating an early birthday during lunch with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore, Monday, June 11, 2018. Trump turns 72 on Thursday. (Ministry of Communications and Information Singapore via AP)

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– South Korean President Moon Jae-in has no current plans to join Trump and Kim at the end of their summit. Moon had expressed hope that the meeting will lead to a three-way declaration also including South Korea on formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War. But Moon has to be present when and if such a document is signed.


– Lying low at the St. Regis hotel, preparing for Tuesday? Only his inner circle knows. There was no sighting of him in Singapore on Monday. Barring a nocturnal venture outside his heavily guarded hotel, he may not resurface in public until summit time. North Koreans were told by state media for the first time Monday that Kim is meeting Trump. One man exclaimed, “I know that Singapore is a very hot country so I wish that our respected marshal stays healthy and comes back in good health.”

In this photo released by the Ministry of Communications and Information of Singapore, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, left, shake hands in Singapore, ahead of a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Monday, June 11, 2018. (Ministry of Communications and Information Singapore via AP)


– Trump and Kim will start their historic summit at Sentosa Island with a one-on-one session with translators. After that no one really knows how it will play out. Anything is possible, from a grandiose declaration that the Korean War will be formally ended in the near future, with the far more complex lynchpin of denuclearization on the back burner, to a rapid collapse of talks with someone abruptly walking away. Stay tuned.