North Korea’s state news agencies on Monday said its leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore to discuss with US President Donald Trump the issues of denuclearization and establishing new US-North Korea ties, “as required by the changed era.”
The Korean Central News Agency and Rodong Sinmun reports came a day after Kim and Trump arrived in Singapore on Sunday to attend the first sit-down between a US President and a North Korean leader set for Tuesday.
|This photo, taken from the Korean Central News Agency on June 11, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un before leaving for Singapore the previous day. (Yonhap)|
“Wide-ranging and profound views on the issue of establishing new DPRK-US relations, the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula, the issue of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and other issues of mutual concern, as required by the changed era, will be exchanged at the DPRK-US summit talks,” the KCNA reported in English, using the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The South’s Ministry of Unification on Tuesday noted that it was rare and “unusual” for North Korean media to report Kim’s itinerary in such a swift manner. Reports on Kim’s recent trips to China in March and early May were both made after the North Korean leader had returned to Pyongyang, Lee Eugene, the ministry’s vice spokesperson, told a press briefing.
Experts noted the rare move as Kim‘s strategy of conveying a message of “confidence” for North Korean people.
|North Korea leader Kim Jong-un (left) and US President Donald Trump (Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information, AFP via Yonhap)|
“This shows that Kim is confident about the US guarantee of North Korea’s regime security and it is a way to externally showcase that his regime is functioning on a ‘normal level,’” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Dongguk University.
The KCNA added that Kim Jong-un was accompanied on his trip to Singapore by officials, including Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and Ri Su-yong, vice WPK chairman on international affairs, and No Kwang-chol, minister of the People’s Armed Forces.
Kim was sent off in a ceremony at the Pyongyang airport joined by a group of senior officials, including Kim Yong-nam, the nominal head of state; Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the North’s State Affairs Commission; and Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju, according to the KCNA.
|This photo, taken from the Korean Central News Agency on June 11, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting an honor guard in Pyongyang before leaving for Singapore the previous day. Kim will hold a historic summit with US President Donald Trump in the city-state on June 12. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)|
The North Korean leader then boarded “a Chinese plane for his personal use.” Though the media outlets did not mention details of the carrier, photos of Kim boarding a Boeing 747 Air China flight provided by Beijing were released through Rodong Sinmun.
The plane has been used by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for his overseas trips, according to a Hong Kong newspaper.
Upon his arrival at Changi International Airport on Sunday, Kim was greeted by Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and other senior officials. He then met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien-loong at the presidential palace, the Istana. Trump met with Lee separately Monday.
“He expressed deep thanks to the Singaporean government for its sincere cooperation of providing all conditions and best conveniences for the historic DPRK-US summit meeting and talks,” the KCNA said.
Kim and Lee discussed “issues of developing the bilateral relations in an all-round way by invigorating wide-ranging exchange and cooperation while maintaining the excellent relations and deepening the friendly relations between the two countries.”
Trump and Kim are due to meet Tuesday at 9 a.m. at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa.
By Jung Min-kyung (firstname.lastname@example.org)