President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un came together for a historic first meeting on Tuesday morning in Singapore.
While Americans back home were just wrapping up their Monday night, live footage and photos from Singapore’s Sentosa Island showed Trump, 71, and Kim, whom experts believe to be 33, shaking hands at the Capella Hotel, marking the first time that a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader have met.
As the two approached each other from opposite sides of a white colonnade, Kim said, “Nice to meet you, Mr. President.”
After their initial greeting, the two leaders retreated behind closed doors — with only their respective translators — for a 45-minute, one-on-one meeting.
Before commencing the meeting, the two sat down and answered one question each for reporters, with Trump asked how he felt being there.
“I feel really great. 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,” Trump said.
The North Korean leader responded in kind, with a translator interpreting, “The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we’ve overcome all of them, and we are here today.”
The two exchanged a second handshake with Trump adding a thumbs up.
As the two leaders walked the breezeway between meeting rooms, Kim at one point could be heard saying to Trump — through an interpreter — “Many people in the world will think of this as a form of fantasy, from a science fiction movie.”
Following that presumed ice-breaker, the two men will be joined by their various aides and advisors for an expanded meeting and then a working lunch. Before returning to the U.S., Trump will give a press conference without Kim.
According to pool reports citing Korean media outlets, Kim arrived at the summit venue seven minutes earlier than Trump as a sign of respect. Trump also wore a red tie, thought to be a sign of respect for Kim as North Koreans like the color.
Earlier on Monday, Trump tweeted against those who opposed his meeting with Kim.
“The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the U.S., say the haters & losers,” he tweeted. “We have our hostages, testing, research and all missle launches have stoped, and these pundits, who have called me wrong from the beginning, have nothing else they can say! We will be fine!”
According to CNN, the U.S. goal for the meeting is “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,” also commonly known as CVID. Although North Korea has also mentioned denuclearization as a possible outcome of the talk, the country’s motives are “less clear,” CNN reported.
“A lot of good things could happen, a lot of bad things can happen,” Trump said last Wednesday, according to CNN. “I believe that both sides want to negotiate a deal. I believe we have a really good shot at it being successful.”
But ahead of the high-stakes summit, national security experts, foreign policy analysts and even outside observers were flabbergasted by Trump’s nonchalance about the meeting. He told reporters at the White House on Thursday: “I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done.”
That had HBO’s John Oliver of Last Week Tonight sputtering Sunday night. “It’s not about preparation, it’s about attitude? That’s not even a viable strategy on RuPaul’s Drag Race where, Oh, bring the attitude, sure. But you better also bring your knowledge of wigs, makeup fashion and tucking technique or you sashay away, my friend!”
Trump also raised eyebrows when he told reporters at a press conference in Canada amid the G7 summit that he’ll know “within the first minute” if his talks with Kim are going well.
Asked how, Trump replied, “Just my touch, my feel. That’s all. That’s what I do.”
Trump added that Kim should be appreciative of the opportunity to meet with the U.S. because “he won’t have this opportunity again. It will never be there again.”
“He’s got an opportunity, the likes of which I think almost — if you look into history — very few people have ever had,” the president added.
Trump has had a rocky relationship with Kim, at turns praising and criticizing the North Korean dictator. The president has called Kim a “maniac,” a “bad dude,” a “madman” and a “sick puppy.”
Tensions between the two leaders escalated in August 2017, when Trump warned Kim against making further threats against the U.S. and vowed that if he did not, North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Not long after that, at a September speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Trump taunted Kim as a “rocket man” on a “suicide mission,” and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if Kim didn’t back down from pursuing his nuclear ambitions.
When Kim retaliated by calling Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” the president suggested Kim was “short and fat” but nevertheless expressed a continued desire to “be his friend.”
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But more recently, as the two leaders planned their historic sit-down, Trump praised Kim as a “very honorable” and “very open” negotiator. “We’re having very, very good discussions,” Trump said in April.
Trump added at the time that his upcoming meeting with Kim was “going to be very positive” — but also didn’t make any promises.
“Maybe good things will happen, and maybe we’re all wasting a lot of time,” Trump said.