Trump says will meet with North Korea's Kim on June 12 in Singapore

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore. (Reuters)
Updated 10 May 2018
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Trump says will meet with North Korea's Kim on June 12 in Singapore

WASHINGTON: Leaders of the United States and North Korea will meet for the first time when President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un hold a summit on June 12 in Singapore where the US side will try to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

The two men — whose countries are still technically at war — exchanged fiery rhetoric last year over North Korea’s attempts to build a nuclear weapon that could reach the United States.

However, tensions have since eased greatly, starting around the time of the North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.

“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

His announcement came just hours after three Americans who had been held prisoner in North Korea arrived at a US military base outside Washington, having been released by Kim as a gesture ahead of the summit.
“I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful,” Trump said. “My proudest achievement will be — this is part of it — when we denuclearize that entire peninsula.”

New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has visited Pyongyang twice in recent weeks — once as head of the CIA — but there has been no sign that he cleared up the central question of whether North Korea will be willing to bargain away nuclear weapons that its rulers have long seen as crucial to their survival.

Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke by telephone on Wednesday and the White House said the two leaders “affirmed the shared goal of North Korea abandoning its illicit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs” and remained committed to cooperating with South Korea.

’PHOTO OP’ WORRY

In a speech on the floor of the US Senate, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer warned Trump against going too far too fast in Singapore. The Republican president, Schumer said, should insist upon strong, verifiable commitments from North Korea on disarmament.

“I worry that this president, in his eagerness to strike a deal and get the acclaim and a photo op, will strike a quick one and a bad one, not a strong one, not a lasting one,” Schumer said.

Trump has credited a US “maximum pressure” campaign for drawing North Korea to the negotiating table and vowed to keep economic sanctions in place until Pyongyang takes concrete steps to denuclearize.

But former spy chief Kim Yong Chul, director of North Korea’s United Front Department, said in a toast to Pompeo over lunch in Pyongyang this week: “We have perfected our nuclear capability. It is our policy to concentrate all efforts into economic progress...This is not the result of sanctions that have been imposed from outside.”

Kim recently promised to suspend missile tests and shut a nuclear bomb test site.

North Korea is still technically at war with the United States and its ally South Korea because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a treaty.

The choice of Singapore will put the summit on friendly turf for Trump, as the island nation is a strong US ally and the US Navy frequently visits its port.

South Korea said on Thursday it had high hopes for the summit, “We welcome the North Korea-US summit to be held in Singapore on June 12. We hope the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as well as permanent peace on the peninsula will successfully come about through this summit.”
 


Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

Updated 14 November 2018
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Duterte skips summit meetings but is in ‘top shape’

  • An official named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep
  • Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year

SINGAPORE: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte skipped several meetings at an Asia-Pacific summit in Singapore on Wednesday, prompting the 73-year-old’s office to issue a statement scotching speculation that it was due to ill health.
“We assure the nation that his aforementioned absence has nothing to do with his physical health and wellbeing which have been the subject of speculation,” spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“The president’s constantly punishing work schedule is proof that he is in top physical shape.”
Panelo named four scheduled events that Duterte had not attended on Wednesday, during which the president “took power naps” to catch up on sleep, and said he would also skip a gala dinner with the leaders of nine Southeast Asian nations, US Vice President Mike Pence and several others.
Duterte’s health has been a constant source of speculation since he disappeared from public view for a week last year, and he has said openly that he is tired and would like to step down before the end of his term ends in 2022.
Last month Duterte’s office revealed that he had undergone a colonoscopy and he told reporters that a biopsy had shown he did not have cancer.
The constitution provides for the public to be told of the state of health of an incumbent president, if serious.
If a sitting president dies, is permanently disabled or removed through impeachment, the vice president succeeds to serve the remaining years in a six-year, single term.
Vice President Leni Robredo, a leader of the opposition, was elected separately in 2016. Speculation about Duterte’s health last month prompted concern that the Philippines could be headed for uncertainty given the highly polarized political climate.
Duterte has cited Robredo’s “incompetence” as a reason for his inability to quit as president.
Duterte has a record of skipping summit sessions, though he did not miss any as host when the Philippines held the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last year.
Panelo said it was “amusing that some quarters are making a big fuss” of Duterte’s absences, noting that he had attended ASEAN meetings with leaders from China, Japan and Russia.
“Last night, the president worked late and had only less than three hours of sleep,” he said. “It is unfortunate that the first event scheduled today was at 8:30a.m.”
Duterte is known for having an unorthodox working schedule that typically starts mid-afternoon and includes cabinet meetings that can go on beyond midnight.