Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 1 News List

White House says Trump plans early summit departure

COUNTDOWN:While Kim Jong-un spent the day out of sight, Donald Trump met with Singapore’s prime minister and was treated to an early birthday cake


People yesterday watch a large screen at Pyongyang’s main train station airing video footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un being greeted by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday.

Photo: AP

US President Donald Trump plans to depart early from his unprecedented summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the White House said yesterday, declaring that nuclear talks with the North have moved “more quickly than expected.”

Trump had been scheduled to fly back to Washington tomorrow morning after spending today with Kim in Singapore, but on the eve of the summit, he altered his schedule, opting to return at about 8pm today after a full day of meetings with Kim — almost 15 hours earlier than previously anticipated.

It was not immediately clear what specific progress, if any, had been made in preliminary discussions between US and North Korean officials.

Only hours before the White House announcement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had seemed to lower expectations for the meeting, which Trump had earlier predicted could potentially yield an on-the-spot deal to end the Korean War.

“We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks,” Pompeo said yesterday evening.

The summit is scheduled to begin at 9am, the White House said.

After greeting each other, the two leaders planned to sit for a one-on-one meeting that a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said could last up to two hours, with only translators joining them.

The White House said the daylong summit would also include a working lunch and a larger meeting involving aides to both leaders. Trump is to be joined by Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton and a few others.

Trump planned to speak to reporters after concluding the summit, the White House said.

The last-minute change came as both sides finalized preparations for the meeting, with two meetings at the Ritz Carlton.

Trump yesterday met Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍), was feted at lunch with an early birthday cake (his birthday is Thursday), and then went back to his hotel, the Shangri-La.

Kim spent the day out of view, but was reportedly going on an evening tour of attractions on the city’s waterfront, a source familiar with the plan told Reuters.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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