Trump gives Kim a 'thumbs up' after initial handshake

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  June 11, 2018 at 8:37 PM
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June 11 (UPI) -- U.S. President Donald Trump concluded a one-on-one meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the two have begun a "wider meeting" that includes U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, as well as national security adviser John Bolton.

The 45-minute talk between Trump and Kim was held privately. The topics discussed were not immediately disclosed, but Trump said he approved of the progress made.

While Trump said things were going excellently, Kim did not answer questions from the press pool regarding denuclearization and giving up nuclear weapons.

The morning began in a breathtaking moment that signaled bygones may truly be bygones: Trump and Kim shook hands and signaled a shared optimism about their summit Tuesday morning local time in Singapore.

Kim, believed to be 34 or 35, and Trump, 71, met for the first time at the Capella Hotel around 9 a.m., exchanging a firm and long handshake on the red carpet before a row of U.S. and North Korean flags lined side by side.

The two leaders then faced the cameras as Trump offered remarks rendered inaudible by the noise of flashing cameras.

The U.S. president did not smile but appeared relaxed.

NBC News reported Kim had asked remarks be not made during the initial encounter.

The two men exchanged another handshake as they made their way back into the hotel.

Trump then placed his hand on Kim's back as they exchanged small talk with their two translators by their side.

Inside, the hotel, Kim and Trump offered brief remarks.

Kim told reporters he was able to overcome obstacles to make his way to the Singapore summit.

"For us there was a past that was gripping our ankles, and the erroneous ways of looking at the past were covering eyes and ears, but we overcame all that to have arrived here...it was not easy to get to where we are now."

Kim did not elaborate on what those obstacles were, but Trump, sitting by his side, gave him a brief thumbs up and said a good rapport will build between the two countries.

Trump said, "It's my honor -- we will have a terrific relationship, no doubt."

The talks involving other officials were scheduled to run until 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch.

Lunch included a blend of Western and Asian cuisine, including Korean stuffed cucumber and soy-braised cod. The main dish was beef short rib confit, served with potato dauphinois and steam broccolini.

Trump left his hotel a few minutes before Kim left the St. Regis Hotel in Singapore, ahead of their meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island.

The two leaders reached their destination by around 8:30 a.m., local time.

Kim left his hotel around the time Trump's motorcade reached the summit location, in what appeared to be an all-black armored Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman Guard luxury limousine, possibly the same vehicle Kim rode in to Panmunjom to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.

South Korean news network YTN reported expectations are running high the two sides will reach an agreement that reflect the atmosphere of accord in Singapore.

Late Monday, Kim took a surprise evening tour of Singapore's attractions, including Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay.

The team of White House aides and Trump administration officials had not mentioned whether the issue of North Korean human rights will be addressed during the summit between the two leaders, a sign the United States' priorities lie in mitigating weapons threats.

Pompeo said Monday the only acceptable outcome of the summit is "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization" or dismantlement.

Yonhap reported the atmosphere in Singapore Monday morning was relatively tense, with police deployed across the city.

Kim and Trump are staying in hotels that are less than 600 meters apart, but each leader spent about 20 minutes by car to reach their destination in Sentosa Island.

Shades were drawn across bridge linking Sentosa and the rest of the city, so pedestrians could not see the motorcades en route to the hotel.

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