In a luxury hotel on an island off the coast of Singapore, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un concluded a lengthy, apparently warm summit that the US president said had gone “better anybody could have expected”.
In scenes that were little short of stunning, Mr Trump and Mr Kim, who just months ago appeared to be pushing the Korean peninsula towards the prospect of conflict, shook hands, strolled together and spoke of the weight and responsibility their encounter bore with it. Mr Trump gave the dictator a brief but unmistakable thumbs-up.
“[It is] going great,” Mr Trump told reporters, after completing the best of four hours of contact, including a working lunch on the Singaporean island of Sentosa.
He added: “A really fantastic meeting. A lot of progress. Really very positive. I think better than anybody could have expected. Top of the line. Really good.”
It may be that Tuesday’s meeting transpires to have been nothing more than a dramatic photo-opportunity for the North Korean leader. Yet it could be the day that results in establishing the most significant geopolitical shift in relations between the US and an Asian nation since Richard Nixon visited China in 1972.
That day began, with the two men shaking hands outside the Capella hotel. The Associated Press said their handshake lasted 13 seconds; others said it was 10. Either way, it was long and seemingly warm, and was followed by another set of smiles for the cameras, before the two men, alone with their translators, talked for 45 minutes.
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un shake hands at historic summit
In an assessment that may have global ramifications, Mr Trump said he had forged “good relationship” with the man 37 years younger than himself, and the ruler of a nation with an appalling human rights record.
After initial exchanges lasting around 40 minutes, Mr Trump and Mr Kim emerged, walking side-by-side through the colonnaded hotel before entering a meeting room, where they were joined by their most senior officials. Mr Kim was heard telling the US president through a translator: “I think the entire world is watching this moment. Many people in the world will think of this as a scene from a fantasy...science fiction movie.”
Asked by a reporter how the meeting was going, Mr Trump said: “Very good. Very, very good. Good relationship.“
Mr Kim also sounded positive about the prospects.
Singapore Summit: historic first meeting between Trump and Kim Jong-un
”We overcame all kinds of scepticism and speculations about this summit and I believe that this is good for the peace,” he said. “I believe this is a good prelude for peace.”
The US leader was joined by secretary of state Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, and John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff, for the expanded talks, while Kim’s team included former military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol, foreign minister Ri Yong Ho and Ri Su Yong, vice chairman of the ruling Workers’ Party.
After the meetings, the two teams and other senior officials met for a working lunch, where beef short ribs, sweet and sour pork and “Daegu Jormin”, or Korean braised cod, were served for the main course, according to the menu.
That was to be followed by dark chocolate tarts, pastries and vanilla ice cream for dessert. The North Korean leader’s sister and close confidante, Kim Yo Jong, was among the lunch party, Reuters noted.
As the cameras captured the moment, Mr Trump said: “Very nice. Getting a good picture everyone, so we all look nice and handsome and thin…perfect.”
Ager they finished their working lunch, the two men appeared for the cameras to sign a document. A senior US official said it would underscore the progress they have made that day between the two historic foes.
Mr Kim is due to leave on Tuesday afternoon, a source involved in the planning of his visit has said. Meanwhile, the White House said said that Mr Trump was leaving Singapore early because negotiations had moved “more quickly than expected”.
The unfolding summit was a remarkable change in dynamics from less than a year ago, when Mr Trump was threatening “fire and fury” against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a “mentally deranged US dotard”.