US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have arrived in Singapore for their historic summit. Trump flew in aboard Air Force One, a few hours after Kim touched down with his entourage.
Their meeting—the first between a leader from the North and a sitting US president—will take place Tuesday on the resort island of Sentosa.
Trump described it as a “one-time shot” at peace and said the two were in “unknown territory”. The US hopes the summit will kick-start a process that eventually sees Kim give up nuclear weapons.
The two leaders have had an extraordinary up-and-down relationship over the past 18 months, trading insults and threatening war before abruptly changing tack and moving towards a face-to-face meeting. For much of the day we’ve been playing “guess the plane”. Three aircraft took off from Pyongyang, heading for Singapore.
The first was an Ilyushin transport plane. That was easy – it would be carrying Kim Jong-un’s armoured limousine. Next came an Air China 747, which normally carries Chinese President Xi Jinping. Surely this would be carrying Kim?
But then a surprise—Kim Jong-un’s personal jet, a Soviet-era Ilyushin 62, also took to the air. Was he actually on that, or was it a decoy? It being North Korea, no-one was telling us. Singapore’s foreign minister finally gave the game away, posting a photo of him greeting Kim on Instagram. It was, after all, the Air China 747.
It’s been the same story with Kim’s hotel. That too is a secret. But then we spotted North Korean cameramen standing outside the St Regis Hotel. It was a pretty good clue. When Kim’s motorcade arrived there was another little surprise – he wasn’t in his normal Mercedes.
Instead he was riding an even fancier Maybach. It’s not clear where it comes from. But it is clear that when it comes to planes and limos, Kim Jong-un has no intention of being outshone by President Trump.
Trump’s first year in office was marked by bitter exchanges with Kim as North Korea conducted several ballistic missile tests in defiance of international warnings.
Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury” if Pyongyang kept threatening the US. He also referred to Kim as “little rocket man”. In return, Kim called him “mentally deranged” and a “dotard”. -BBC and AFP