US President Donald Trump met Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, on the eve of a historic summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The two emerged briefly from a private meeting at the Istana, the Singaporean president’s official residence, shaking hands while posing and smiling for cameras, before proceeding inside for a working lunch with officials from the US and Singapore.
Neither gave any comment to journalists, but as they took their seats Trump could be heard saying to Lee: “We’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I just think it’s going to work out very nicely.”
Meanwhile, officials from Trump’s delegation wrapped up a meeting that lasted more than two hours with North Korean representatives.
Sung Kim, who serves as the US ambassador to the Philippines and is a former ambassador to South Korea, led the US delegation during the meeting at the Ritz Carlton, while Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui was part of the North Korean delegation.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has accompanied Trump to Singapore, later tweeted that the talks had been “substantive and detailed.”
“The US position remains clear and unchanged,” Pompeo added in a statement released by the White House.
Senior White House officials were scheduled to hold a press conference in Singapore later Monday.
Lee met separately with the North Korean leader on Sunday evening, hours after Kim landed in the city-state from Pyongyang.
Tuesday’s historic summit, which will see an incumbent US president meeting with a North Korean leader for the first time, will aim to reach an agreement on North Korea’s denuclearization in exchange for the easing of diplomatic and economic sanctions on Pyongyang.
North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA reported Monday that the two sides would exchange views on the establishment of new North Korea-US relations, as well as “the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula.”
The report also said the meeting would address “the issue of realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
“Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!” Trump tweeted early Monday, providing some insight into his mood on the eve of the summit.
The president said earlier he was on a “mission of peace” but also warned that the face-to-face talks were a “one-time shot.”
South Korean President Moon Jae In cautioned Monday that the meeting between Trump and Kim would only mark the beginning of a “long process,” South Korean media reported.
“The deep-rooted hostile relationship and the North Korean nuclear issue cannot be resolved in one single action in a meeting between leaders,” Moon told a weekly meeting with his top aides, Yonhap news agency reported.
“Even after the two leaders open the dialogue, we will need a long process that may take one year, two years or even longer to completely resolve the issues,” Moon added.
Yet Moon also expressed optimism, saying, “I have both expectations and hopes that tomorrow’s summit will be a success.”
Following Trump’s meeting with Moon, the US president accepted an invitation by Singaporean President Halimah Yacob to return to the country for a state visit.
The visit is set for November 2018 in conjunction with the 6th ASEAN-US Summit and 13th East Asia Summit, according to a statement by Singapore’s foreign ministry.