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Uncertainty over Trump-Kim summit ends

Updated June 06, 2018

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WASHINGTON: The White House confirmed on Tuesday that the historic meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore will start tentatively at 9am next Tuesday.

The White House also confirmed that Shangri-La, a hotel in Singapore, will be the venue for the June 12 summit. Officials in Washington told various US media outlets that Shangri-La has been selected for this meeting because it is the most secure hotel in the area.

Shangri-La also has hosted more world leaders than any other hotel in Singapore, including two former US presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. It was also the site of a milestone meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in 2015.

Every year, the hotel also hosts a global security summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the keynote speaker at the 2018 conference, held this weekend.

The US media, while commenting on the White House confirmation, noted that this “on-again, off-again summit has been a diplomatic rollercoaster and kept everyone on their toes.”

On May 22, the White House announced that the US-North Korea summit was not happening. White House officials said that President Trump had also sent a letter to the North Korean leader, stating he was calling off their planned meeting because of “the open anger and tremendous hostility” Kim Jong-un had “displayed” in a recent statement.

Mr Trump also talked about North Korea’s nuclear programme in that letter, saying: “You talk about your nuclear capabilities but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used.”

On May 29, however, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the summit was back on track and will take place on June 12, as originally planned. She also said that denuclearisation will be one of the key items on the US agenda for the meeting, despite North Korea’s earlier announcement that it will not discuss its nuclear programme with foreign leaders.

The confirmation came a day after a US delegation visited North Korea for preparatory talks and on June 1, a North Korean official Kim Yong Chol met President Trump at the White House and delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un.

Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2018