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Trump says he'll know 'within a minute' if Kim is serious

The US President is finally set to meet Kim Jong Un this week.

Updated Jun 9th 2018, 4:07 PM

NEXT TUESDAY, THE President of the United States and the Supreme Leader of the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea, or North Korea as we all know and love it, will meet for the first time.

The first time ever that is.

And, speaking this afternoon, Donald Trump said that he will know “within a minute” if Kim Jong Un is “serious”.

The US President claimed today that his North Korean counterpart “wants to do something great for his people” and that this meeting was a “one-time shot” for peace and denuclearisation.

How have we got here? Well, after a nasty few months in 2017, where (depending on the excitability of the media outlet you happened to be reading) World War III seemed to be in the offing, Trump and Kim now appear to be getting along significantly better than they had.

The hermit nation has been a puzzlement for the international community since the aftermath of the Korean War (in which America backed the armies of the South) in 1950-51.

The country tends to talk big, without every having too much of an impact on the daily affairs of western nations.

Until, that is, it started trying to gain access to an elite club in recent years – that of countries with the ability to annihilate others with atomic weapons.

Collision course

Since Donald Trump took office in January 2017 he has been on a seemingly inevitable collision course with the North Korean leader.

With Barack Obama telling the mercurial Trump that Korea would be the biggest international policy headache he would have to deal with, the newly-minted president set about dealing with the situation in the manner he knows best – insults and Twitter threats.

For several months in late 2017, Trump threatened North Korea with ‘fire and fury’, and gave Kim the less-than-flattering nickname of Rocket Man.

In turn, North Korea’s rhetoric insisted that should America be unwise enough to strike it, it would live to regret the retaliation.

Singapore US Trump North Korea A man walks past a cartoon board featuring Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un at a mall in Singapore last week Source: Wong Maye-E/PA Images

Possibly the key to the animosity is the relationship between North Korea and China, with the latter proving to be one of Kim’s few international allies, and also a sometime trade adversary of the US. Trump’s relationship with Chinese premier Xi Jinping is a relatively positive one however.

In November of last year, after months of simmering tensions and seemingly endless missile tests on the part of the Koreans, Trump added the Asian country back onto his country’s list of terrorist nations.

Rhetoric

Still, in the early months of this year Trump has somewhat toned down the rhetoric against Kim, and even went so far as to suggest he’d be willing to meet the North Korean leader.

On 9 March, that mooted meeting became a concrete possibility. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meanwhile held an unprecedented secret meeting with Kim himself in Pyongyang. On 20 April Kim suspended all his country’s nuclear and long-range missile tests.

DC: President Donald Trump hosts the White House IFTAR Trump, pictured at the White House IFTAR dinner on 6 June Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

On 10 May, the meeting was officially slated for Singapore on 12 June, and the impossible looked like it was finally set to be achieved. Democratic (as in actually democratic – North Korea is a communist state) South Korea, meanwhile, which shares one of the world’s most volatile borders with the north, declared itself cautiously optimistic regarding the meeting.

Kim had even begun to speak about wholesale denuclearisation of his country, something the West could scarcely have comprehended a year previous, when efforts to become a nuclear power had seemed the most obvious route for Kim to consolidate his own power.

Trump began to lead shouts of ‘Nobel! Nobel!’ at his rallies, the suggestion being that, for enhancing diplomatic relations with North Korea, he was due a Nobel Peace Prize, a feat his predecessor Obama had managed in 2009.

And then? Then Donald Trump pulled the plug on the whole thing on 24 May, blaming his actions on a ‘trail of broken promises’ and ‘open hostility’.

Almost immediately however, the US president began to walk back that declaration. Five days later one of Kim’s right-hand-men landed in New York for crisis talks and suddenly the summit was looking like a distinct possibility. And then, on 1 June, Trump told reporters that the meeting is definitely back on after receiving a ‘very nice’ letter from Kim.

Which he acknowledged moments later he hadn’t actually read. Which is relatively par for the course at this stage, to be fair.

What to expect

So the summit is getting closer. What can we actually expect of it?

Singapore US Trump North Korea El Gringo and El Hombre Cohete tacos being sold at the Lucha Loco restaurant in Singapore last week Source: Wong Maye-E/PA Images

Well the meeting itself will take place at the luxury Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.

With just one week to go, however, there are little indications that one of the world’s most anticipated diplomatic showdowns is set to take place.

Currently, the overriding rumours are that the summit could extend to a second day, and Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has stated that Kim ‘begged’ Trump to give the meeting a second shot.

Predicting what’s going to happen probably won’t get you anywhere. Neither man speaks the other’s language tho, so hopefully the translators are at the top of their game.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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