US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shook hands and smiled cautiously as they headed for talks at a historic summit in Singapore on Tuesday.
“Nice to meet you Mister President,” Kim said as he sat alongside Trump, against a backdrop of North Korean and US flags, beaming more broadly as the US president gave him a thumbs up, Reuters reports.
Trump, on his part, said he is sure they will have a “terrific relationship”.
With cameras of the world’s press trained on them, Trump and Kim displayed an initial atmosphere of bonhomie.
“I feel really great,” Trump said. “It’s gonna be a great discussion and I think tremendous success. I think it’s gonna be really successful and I think we will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.”
Kim replied: “Well, it was not easy to get here. The past has … placed many obstacles in our way but we overcame all of them and we are here today.”
Both men looked serious as they got off their limousines for the summit at the Capella hotel on Sentosa Island, but they were soon smiling and holding each other by the arm, Reuters noted.
Trump then guided Kim to the library where they held a meeting with only their interpreters.
The one-on-one between Trump and Kim will be followed by a wider meeting that includes officials from the two sides before the teams hold a working lunch.
In the hours before the summit began, Trump expressed optimism about prospects for the first-ever meeting of sitting US and North Korean leaders.
But his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, injected a note of caution as to whether Kim will prove to be sincere about his willingness to denuclearize.
He earlier said the event should set the framework for “the hard work that will follow”, insisting that North Korea has to move toward complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.
Sanctions on North Korea would remain in place until that happens, Pompeo said.
“North Korea has previously confirmed to us its willingness to denuclearize and we are eager to see if those words prove sincere.”
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