Singapore summit: Historic meeting between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un


President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet at a historic summit in Singapore.

Stay with the Los Angeles Times as we bring you full coverage of the unprecedented meeting with reporters in Singapore and Washington.

Trump says he sees a familiar opportunity in North Korea: real estate

In an hourlong news conference after his summit Tuesday with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, President Trump went off on a tangent near and dear to his heart: beachfront real estate.

Trump said he laid out for Kim a potential prosperous future for the communist nation when foreign investment starts pouring in — but only if it relinquishes nuclear weapons.

Watching U.S. videos of North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests, Trump said, he saw the country’s beautiful coastline and its development potential.

“You see that whenever they’re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right? I said, ‘Boy, look at the view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo behind?’” Trump told reporters.

“Think of it from a real estate perspective,” Trump said he told Kim, who runs an impoverished country where the government owns all the real estate.

North Korea already has in the works a coastal tourist area on its east coast in Wonsan, which is also a missile testing site. The Wonsan-Kalma tourst area is slated for completion in April.

Trump said he tried to get Kim to see that real estate development, not nuclear weapons, offered the path to a promising future.

“You know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there,” Trump said he told Kim.

Trump may get the chance to show Kim what he has in mind.

He said he hopes to invite Kim to America “at the appropriate time,” and he has invited many foreign dignitaries to his Florida golf club and beach resort, Mar-a-Lago.


Trump presented Kim Jong Un with an action hero-style video that looks a lot like propaganda

To convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to eventually give up his nuclear weapons, President Trump showed him a White House-produced video that looked like a cross between a propaganda film and movie trailer about an action hero.

“When a man is presented with a chance that may never be repeated, what will he choose?” a narrator asks in the four-minute video, which was shown twice Tuesday — first in Korean, then in English — to a confused throng of journalists who weren’t told what they were watching.

“The world will be watching, listening, anticipating, hoping,” the voice echoed in the hotel ballroom before Trump emerged to hold a 65-minute news conference. “Will this leader choose to advance his country ... be the hero of his people?”

The video — one of the more surreal moments in a summit that even Kim compared to a science fiction movie — was billed as “A Story of Opportunity,” and included a mock movie intro that said it was “A Destiny Pictures presentation.”

Trump said the video was shown to Kim and his aides on an iPad. He said Kim seemed to like it, which is good because it was intended for an audience of one, in this case a nuclear-armed tyrant who runs a police state.

“I showed it because I really want him to do something,” Trump said.

Asked if he thought Kim may co-opt the video and use it as propaganda for himself, Trump said he was “not concerned at all.”

He also disputed a reporter’s characterization that the video showed him and Kim on an equal footing, saying he did not see it that way.

Kim probably didn’t need the video to make that case. Front pages in Pyongyang highlighted endless pictures of Kim and Trump shaking hands, standing side by side, smiling and patting each other on the back during the summit.

The founder of the real-life Destiny Pictures, an L.A. production company, told Vice the studio had nothing to do with the Trump video.


Swift North Korean coverage of Kim Jong Un’s trip a departure for nation’s typically delayed media

The images so far from the summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are historically striking, but so too perhaps is an image reported in the totalitarian state’s official newspaper.

Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the North Korean governing party, printed front-page images from a late-night walk Kim made around a tourist region in Singapore.

It’s unusual for Kim to leave North Korea but also stunning for observers to see him moving around in a highly public area on foreign soil, albeit with a large security detail.

But the fact that state media documented his movements right away, rather than with the typical daylong delay, is another indication that norms could be changing amid the recent diplomatic activity between the North and South Korea and the United States.

“This time they’ve managed to get still images back from Singapore from a late-night event and into the next day’s paper,” said Martyn Williams, a writer for the North Korea Tech website who monitors the nation’s state media via satellite and online from his San Francisco-area home.

“The news is centrally controlled and the angle needs to be figured out for every story,” he said. “It needs to be coordinated through newspapers, radio, wire service and TV and they’re pulling it off from overseas.”

Williams said the North Koreans know the world is watching and will interpret its official media. But the key change, he said, is that “the North Korean people are seeing this faster than they normally would.”

“Perhaps this is part of a message that Kim is overseas working hard, inspecting what Singapore has achieved so it can do the same,” he said.


Summit lunch a mix of Eastern and Western dishes


What Trump and Kim said to each other

(Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images)

The Times’ Victoria Kim reports from Singapore that during their handshake, Kim Jong Un apparently spoke in English to President Trump: “It’s nice to meet you, Mr. President.”

Here’s the full exchange. The handshake lasted 13 seconds.


Trump calls meeting ‘excellent.’ Kim doesn’t answer a shouted question about nukes


Trump becomes first U.S. president to meet a North Korean head of state

A historic handshake between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The world’s most powerful leader and its most reviled shook hands in front of an array of six U.S. and six North Korean flags Tuesday as President Trump greeted North Korean despot Kim Jong Un before they sat down to negotiate over nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula.

The two initially met in private at the Capella Singapore hotel, with only interpreters by the leaders’ sides. The meeting marked one of the biggest gambles of Trump’s norm-smashing approach to foreign affairs, coming only months after he and Kim traded cartoonish insults and aggressive threats of nuclear Armageddon.

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Here is the stage where President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un are expected to shake hands


Hours before his summit with President Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un goes sightseeing

With less than 12 hours to go until the once-improbable meeting with President Trump, North Korea’s autocratic, secretive leader Kim Jong Un took another extraordinary step: He went sightseeing around town.

Kim left his heavily fortified luxury hotel shortly after 9 p.m. Monday, and headed to some of the busiest tourist destinations in downtown Singapore, including the rooftop of the Marina Bay Sands hotel and the Jubilee Bridge.

Surrounded by his entourage, a throng of body guards and Singapore government officials, Kim took in the sights and basked in camera flashes, greeted by a curious and buzzy crowd everywhere he went.

He even posed, smiling, for a selfie snapped by Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

It was a scene unthinkable in the history of his reclusive nation, where for seven decades, his father and grandfather were seen only in staid, staged images issued by state media.

Just a few days ago, a stern North Korean security official demanded to see the phone of a man who snapped photos of Kim in the lobby of his hotel and forced him to delete the photos off his phone.

Monday night, though, Kim appeared to almost enjoy the attention as crowds of onlookers yelled to get his attention. A North Korean press corps traveling with him could be seen filming the gaggle.

Trump, on the other hand, spent a quiet evening Monday largely out of sight.

Shortly after 10 p.m., Kim’s motorcade left the Marina Bay Sands and appeared to head back to the St. Regis hotel, where he is staying.

It was less than 11 hours to go until the summit.


Photo gallery: Historic meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un


Will Trump bring up North Korea’s dreadful human rights record when he meets Kim?

Human rights activist Suzanne Scholte speaks during an anti-North Korea rally in South Korea in May.
Human rights activist Suzanne Scholte speaks during an anti-North Korea rally in South Korea in May.
(Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)

The No. 1 topic at Tuesday’s summit between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will undoubtedly be the reclusive regime’s nuclear weapons.

That’s left analysts worried that North Korea’s terrible history of human rights abuses will be completely sidelined by security concerns.

Tens of thousands of people accused of political crimes are in North Korea’s vast gulag of work camps and prisons, according to Amnesty International. Other human rights groups, such as the Transitional Justice Working Group in Seoul, have documented mass gravesites.

The government in Pyongyang has also jailed Americans with what outsiders say appear to be excessive sentences.

In one 2016 case, a visiting American college student received a 15-year sentence for alleged theft. The student, Otto Warmbier, was returned in a coma last year to his home in Ohio and died shortly after.

His father, Fred Warmbier, attended the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February to protest North Korea’s participation and to raise awareness about its human rights record.

Trump spoke passionately about human rights when he addressed South Korea’s main legislative body, known as the National Assembly, in Seoul last fall.

But he has downplayed the issue during his recent efforts to strike a disarmament deal with Kim, and rarely mentions it at the White House or in meetings with other foreign leaders, including despots.

Sean King, a former senior advisor on Asia issues at the Department of Commerce, said it would be strategically smart for Trump to raise human rights when he meets with Kim on Tuesday.

“How can you put stock in any deal you strike with a regime that doesn’t respect its own people’s basic rights?” King asked. “Pushing human rights with North Korea thus makes good sense all around, as I see it.”


Kimchi-flavored ice cream: A small gesture for world peace?

More than 2,000 foreign journalists are packing a downtown Singapore convention center to cover Tuesday’s historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The media pack is following the news but it also needs to eat. A few companies are trying to gain publicity with some rather creative flavors.

One company, asked by the local government to help cater the media center, is trying something risky: ice cream with a hint of kimchi.

Yes, kimchi, the spicy and fermented side dish that’s a staple of the Korean diet, though not usually in desserts.

“We wanted to contribute a little bit to world peace, in some small way,” said James Kwan, a director with Singapore-based Commonwealth Capital, which runs several food companies.

The group, known colloquially as the Common Good, also offered its own version of kimchijjigae, a spicy stew that’s popular in South Korea.

The kimchi ice cream promotion also came with what it called a dipstick poll. Those trying the novel dessert were asked to vote with their popsicle sticks, tossing them into jars for Kim or Trump.

The North Korean leader, at least around lunchtime Monday, appeared slightly ahead.

Three floors above the massive convention hall, which typically hosts media for Formula One racing, another company with Korea-flavored interests is also trying to introduce itself to the press.

SPC Group, the South Korean conglomerate that controls the restaurant Paris Baguette, which is ubiquitous in Seoul and has locations in Los Angeles, decided to provide as many as 5,000 sandwiches and 10,000 containers of water to the assembled reporters.

Kenneth Lee, a business strategist for the group, whose current chairman was born in North Korea decades ago, said the company has an “emotional feeling” about the event.

“This is such a good cause,” he said. “This is just a historic moment for Korea.”


Trump gets an early birthday cake in Singapore

President Trump turns 72 on Thursday. The Singaporean government gave him a birthday cake while he was visiting Istana, the presidential palace. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign affairs minister, tweeted the photo.


Two South Korean journalists deported from Singapore for allegedly tresspassing at North Korean ambassador’s residence

An estimated 2,500 journalists are expected to cover tomorrow’s unprecedented Singapore summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Over the weekend though, two journalists headed in the opposite direction.

A pair of South Korean broadcast journalists were ordered deported from Singapore after they were arrested by local police on Thursday for allegedly trespassing at the North Korean ambassador’s residence here.

The men, aged 42 and 45, are employees of the Korean Broadcasting System, the national public broadcaster of South Korea.

The journalists received a “stern warning,” had their “visit passes” canceled and were “repatriated” to South Korea on Saturday, Singapore police said.

“The Police would like to remind all foreigners visiting Singapore to abide by local laws,” police said in a statement Sunday.

Members of the media who break laws in Singapore will lose their press accreditation and won’t be allowed to cover the historic summit, the statement said.

Two other South Korean individuals who were under investigation, a KBS employee and a guide, were cleared of wrongdoing, the police said.

KBS issued an on-air apology for the incident, saying its reporters were overzealous and did not exercise enough discretion.


North Korea’s state-run news agency belatedly announces Kim’s arrival on Chinese jet for talks with Trump

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives Sunday in Singapore.
(Terence Tan / Singapore Ministry of Communications and Information)

News apparently travels slowly in North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated nations.

North Korea’s state-run media early Monday belatedly announced Kim Jong Un’s departure from Pyongyang and arrival in Singapore — half a day earlier — for his summit with President Trump.

The Korean Central News Agency said Kim flew aboard a Chinese jet, not his usual Russian-built aircraft, and would discuss denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula when he meets with Trump on Tuesday.

The report said Kim would try to establish new relations between North Korea and the United States, saying the talks were “required by the changed era.”

KCNA used stilted language, not the barbed jibes and threats that marked some government statements during the on-off-on preparations for the summit.

“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 … will be exchanged at the DPRK-U.S. summit talks to be held for the first time in history under the great attention and expectation of the whole world,” the news agency reported, using initials for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

It also noted Kim’s welcome by Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Kim told Lee he “was very pleased to visit the magnificent and beautiful Republic of Singapore,” the agency reported.

KCNA is going all out to cover the summit for the folks back home, a change from their wait-and-see approach until now. Though KCNA is still vastly outnumbered by the army of international journalists, it’s making a valiant effort.

At least five TV cameras and several photographers from North Korea could be seen recording Kim’s every move upon his arrival Sunday afternoon.

Cameramen poked out from sunroofs of cars ahead of Kim’s limousine in the motorcade from the airport, and photographers snapped pictures of Kim as he walked in and out of his hotel.

The North Korean news crew wore black suits identical to the rest of Kim’s large entourage. They also all wore red pins with the faces of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s father and grandfather, respectively, who preceded him in office.


‘It’s him! Trump!’ Kim and ‘Ultimate Donald’ impersonators turn heads in Singapore

At a bustling shopping mall in downtown Singapore, Kim Jong Un and President Trump were all smiles, shaking hands and posing for photo after photo.

Not quite. The two men were impersonators, plugging a social media app. The line for photos — yours for about $11 — snaked down the length of the mall.

With a former reality star and a little-seen North Korean dictator soon to arrive in town, with hairdos and physiques ripe for parody, the “Kim Jong Um” and the “Ultimate Donald Trump Lookalike” were in hot demand.

Singapore authorities, on high security alert for the historic summit, were less than amused. The Kim impersonator, Lee Howard Ho Wun, wrote in a Facebook post that he was questioned at the airport for two hours upon arrival Friday. He said they asked him about past involvement in political protests, searched his bags and told him to stay away from Sentosa Island, the site of the summit.

Any public gatherings without a police permit are illegal in Singapore. Authorities have designated areas around the summit hotel and the hotels where the two leaders are staying as “special event areas,” where no bullhorns, large flags or banners are allowed.

At the mall Saturday, a girl squealed to her friend upon spotting the pair through the crowds. “It’s him! Trump!” she said.

Sophia Lai, a 31-year-old bank worker, said she briefly thought the U.S. and North Korean leaders were at the shopping mall, until she looked around at the sparse security and realized they couldn’t be real.

“It’s a big thing in Singapore,” Lai said, referring to the summit, as she waited in line with her husband for a photo with the impersonators.

As for next week, she said she hoped the real pair would be as chummy as the lookalikes.

“We hope they’ll have peaceful talks and everything will go smoothly,” she said.


Kim Jong Un gets rock star arrival and departure at Singapore hotel

Dozens of bodyguards wearing red pins and earpieces stood inside a velvet rope line cordoning off part of the lobby at the luxury hotel.

Police in black berets and riot gear cautioned lookie-loos to back up, then back up again. A hushed silence fell, a single official camera flashed.

Kim Jong Un was in the house.

Kim made his debut before a horde of international media Sunday afternoon, traveling in a motorcade of more than 20 cars and checking into the St. Regis hotel ahead of his meeting Tuesday with President Trump. He arrived in a shiny Mercedes stretch limo bearing the North Korean flag.

About an hour and half later, security and police roped off the lobby and ordered everyone in earshot to put their cellphones away. Kim emerged from an elevator to leave for his meeting with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

He sauntered to the hotel front entrance in a relaxed gait, surrounded by body guards in identical haircuts and black suits.

Craning their necks behind the ropes were reporters, hotel guests and residents of the condominiums next door. There was a South Korean family with young daughters, a pair of teenage girls, one in braces, and the hotel chef in his toque blanche.

After Kim left, hotel staff and a stern North Korean official questioned a man for having snuck a photo of Kim on his phone. Looking sweaty and nervous, he deleted the photos off his phone and swiftly left the lobby.


Trump backed out of G-7 communique to avoid show of weakness before North Korea summit, Kudlow says

President Trump, with his economic advisor, Larry Kudlow.
(Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump pulled out of the Group of 7 joint communique Saturday night because he wanted to avoid a show of weakness before his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a top White House official said Sunday.

Trump agreed with the language in the communique crafted during the summit in Canada on Friday and Saturday, but took offense at criticism of U.S. tariffs by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his news conference after Trump departed early.

The president “is not going to let a Canadian prime minister push him around… on the eve of this,” top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“He is not going to permit any show of weakness on the trip to negotiate with North Korea, nor should he,” Kudlow said. “Kim must not see American weakness.”

The decision to back out of the communique was “in large part” because of the upcoming North Korea summit, Kudlow said.

He said Trump agreed with the fairly generic trade language in the communique drafted by the G-7 leaders, who are traditionally America’s closet allies.

But when Trudeau said Canada would be forced to retaliate for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and would not agree to a sunset provision in a new North American Free Trade Agreement, “he really kind of stabbed us in the back,” Kudlow said.

“We were very close to making a deal with Canada on NAFTA … then we leave and he pulls this sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption,” Kudlow said of Trudeau.

“It’s a betrayal, essentially a double-crossing,” Kudlow said.

Trump tweeted from Air Force One that he would not sign the communique, calling Trudeau “very dishonest & weak” for his trade criticism.

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Trump lands in Singapore for nuclear summit

President Trump is met by Singapore's foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan.
President Trump is met by Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan.
(AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump landed in Singapore on Sunday evening for his much-anticipated nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Air Force One touched down about five hours after Kim, who arrived mid-afternoon and met with Singapore’s prime minister, setting the stage for Tuesday’s unprecedented summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean head of state.

Trump waved as he came down the steps. He was greeted on the tarmac by Singapore’s foreign affairs minister and stepped into a waiting limo without making remarks.

It was far less fanfare than Kim received. The North Korean dictator traveled in a motorcade of more than 20 vehicles and, at times, a group of bodyguards running alongside his black Mercedes limo.

On his way to Singapore, Trump tweeted: “I am on my way to Singapore where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the World.”


South Korean reporters arrested in Singapore after accusations of trespassing at North Korean ambassador’s house

Two South Korean broadcast reporters were arrested this week in Singapore after allegations of trespassing into the residence of North Korea’s ambassador while reporting on the lead-up to next week’s historic U.S.-North Korea summit, local police said.

The men, ages 42 and 45, were arrested Thursday afternoon and face up to three months’ imprisonment and a $1,500 fine. Police did not identify them, but said they were with the Korean Broadcasting System, South Korea’s national public broadcaster. Two other individuals, including a local guide for the group, also were under investigation, Singapore police said.

The broadcaster issued an apology for the trespass investigation as part of its nightly news cast Friday. The news organization said it was overzealous and did not exercise enough caution in a sensitive situation, and said it respects the judgment of the local police and justice system.

The reporters are among more than 3,000 journalists expected to descend on the island nation to cover the unprecedented summit between a sitting U.S. president and North Korea’s leader. Hundreds of reporters, primarily South Korean and Japanese, have been in Singapore for weeks scrambling for any glimpse of preparations for the summit.

A spokesman for South Korea’s president said in a briefing Friday that, in addition to the arrests, there had been at least four run-ins between reporters and Singapore’s strict police force, including incidents involving filming in areas where it was forbidden.


Trump on Singapore summit: ‘I’ll be on a mission of peace’

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

As he prepared to depart for Singapore and his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Trump expressed confidence Saturday that the summit would be a success.

“I’ll be on a mission of peace,” Trump told reporters in Quebec, Canada, in a 25-minute news conference before heading for Air Force One.

Having just wrapped up his participation in the G-7 meeting of industrialized nations, which he left early, the president turned his attention to North Korea, saying he’d know “within the first minute” of his meeting with Kim whether it would be successful and that his approach to the objectives for the high-stakes meeting would be “spur of the moment.”

“It’s unknown territory in the truest sense, but I really feel confident,” Trump said of the North Korean summit.

“I feel that Kim Jong Un wants to do something great for his people. He has that opportunity, and he won’t have that opportunity again,” Trump said. “It’s a one-time shot, and I think it’s going to work out very well.”


Summits are tricky: Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan each learned the hard way

In his 1961 inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy spoke about the possibility of daring diplomacy to thaw even the coldest of relationships: “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

Those words, often cited by President Obama, could also be repurposed by President Trump — if the 45th president were into quotations — as he embarks on the most high-stakes U.S. summit in a generation, sitting down in Singapore Tuesday with Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

But Kennedy’s most consequential summit, which came just months into his presidency, was an unmitigated disaster, according to historians.

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Trump keeps shifting goals on North Korea, from ‘fire and fury’ to denuclearization to a meet-and-greet

Nine months after he threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” President Trump has sharply moderated his goals for next week’s nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a shift shaped in large part by competing foreign policy camps in his inner circle.

Two weeks ago, Trump said North Korea must dismantle its nuclear arsenal and infrastructure “over a very short period of time.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went further, calling for “rapid denuclearization, total and complete, that won’t be extended over time.”

But by last Friday, after welcoming a senior North Korean envoy into the Oval Office, Trump conceded that ambitious objective was probably impossible when he faces Kim in Singapore on June 12.

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North Korea summit is a signature moment for Trump and his challenge to the foreign policy establishment

During his campaign, Donald Trump lashed U.S. presidents for cutting “stupid” foreign deals, alleging that they gave too much away to allies and adversaries alike, and insisted “the world is laughing at America’s politicians.”

National security and foreign policy experts called him naive and reckless, and warned that sensitive global diplomacy is nothing like the bare-knuckled world of New York real estate or the raw voyeurism of reality TV.

Now, as he prepares to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a historic nuclear summit in Singapore, President Trump is putting his much-touted negotiating skills and his iconoclastic worldview to the ultimate test.

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Trump says no need for extensive preparation in advance of the summit with Kim Jong Un

President Trump unabashedly confirmed reports that he’s not doing much to prepare for next week’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, unlike his predecessors who spent hours with advisors and briefing books before such high-stakes meetings.

“I think I’m very well prepared,” Trump said Thursday at the outset of an Oval Office meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about attitude,” he said. “I think I’ve been prepared for this summit for a long time, as has the other side.”

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Trump and Kim both want ‘denuclearization’ but disagree on what that means

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un both say they have the same ambitious goal — denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — at their upcoming summit in Singapore.

But the two leaders fundamentally disagree about what that looks like.

The dispute over the shape, scope and speed of a potential disarmament has stymied international efforts to halt or roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons program for three decades. It arguably poses the biggest obstacle to a successful summit now that the historic meeting is back on track for June 12.

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What China wants from a U.S.-North Korea summit — and why it makes Trump nervous

In the head-snapping drama of the off-again, on-again U.S.-North Korea summit, the unpredictable lead actors, President Trump and Kim Jong Un, hold center stage.

But off in the wings, China is controlling some of the key action — and may help dictate the ending.

Until recently, Beijing seemed to share Washington’s growing worry about Pyongyang’s increasingly powerful nuclear tests and ballistic missiles. Armed with a United Nations resolution, Chinese President Xi Jinping began squeezing his Communist “little brother” with the toughest economic sanctions ever.

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South Korea’s president was matchmaker for the nuclear summit — but could take the blame if it fails

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un famously called President Trump a “frightened dog” and a “dotard” last summer, but the leader of the free world got off fairly easy by Korean standards.

State media in Pyongyang recently slammed South Korea’s disgraced former president, Park Geun-hye, as a “traitor” and “insane,” going further than the guilty verdict from the court that sentenced her to 24 years in prison in a bribery scandal.

Thus the North Korean dictator’s brotherly hugs and clasped hands with South Korea’s current president, Moon Jae-in, were almost as unimaginable here as the unlikely spectacle of the Trump-Kim summit scheduled for Tuesday in Singapore.

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North Korea summit is a signature moment for Trump and his challenge to the foreign policy establishment

During his campaign, Donald Trump lashed U.S. presidents for cutting “stupid” foreign deals, alleging that they gave too much away to allies and adversaries alike, and insisted “the world is laughing at America’s politicians.”

National security and foreign policy experts called him naive and reckless, and warned that sensitive global diplomacy is nothing like the bare-knuckled world of New York real estate or the raw voyeurism of reality TV.

Now, as he prepares to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a historic nuclear summit in Singapore, President Trump is putting his much-touted negotiating skills and his iconoclastic worldview to the ultimate test.

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Would a North Korea nuclear deal be better than the one Trump just abandoned with Iran?

When President Trump turned against the global tide and withdrew from the landmark, multi-nation Iran nuclear deal, he cited its failure to curtail the Islamic Republic’s other “malign behavior.”

That included Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and its support of militant groups beyond its borders.

Now, as he is about to embark on the potentially historic negotiation of an agreement with nuclear-armed North Korea, those criticisms of the Iran agreement could potentially put the president in a bind. He faces a challenge similar to the one President Obama faced in his dealings with Iran.

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