Trump gives Kim a 'thumbs up' after initial handshake

Trump Kim summit

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un's historic handshake

"When you don't hash out all the issues, just one meeting isn't going to help", Dong said.

North Koreans have always wanted a meeting with a US president, just no previous administration was willing to do this kind of meeting unless it came with a substantive commitment or concession on denuclearization.

Officials from the two sides held last-minute talks aimed at laying the groundwork for a meeting that was nearly unthinkable just months ago when the two leaders were exchanging insults and threats that raised fears of war.

He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing US troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the USA was "prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique, than America's been willing to provide previously". They were prompted by North Korea's withdrawl from the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and their interception of a U.S. spy plane.

But there was no mentioning the previous U.S. aim of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization".

Talks begin between the two leaders and their wider staff
Talks begin between the two leaders and their wider staff

For all the upbeat talk, it was an open question what, if any, concrete results the sit-down would produce.

Sanctions on North Korea would remain in place until that happened, Pompeo said.

Trump has said the public will be able to tell how the summit goes by what he says afterward.

The summit with Donald Trump comes after Kim Jong-un crossed over to the southern side of the Demilitarised Zone for historic talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.

Kim is due to leave on Tuesday afternoon, a source involved in the planning of his visit has said.

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Trump has also said he would raise the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lobbied him in a meeting in Washington last week.

When Trump met former North Korean military intelligence chief Kim Yong Chol at the White House two weeks ago, the president said they didn't discuss human rights, underscoring that it was not a primary concern.

His first stop was a park with futuristic, tree-shaped installations, Gardens by the Bay, which also boasts the largest glass greenhouse and tallest indoor waterfall in the world.

The selfie posted by the Singaporean foreign minister shows a grinning Kim, donning his tortoise-shell glasses.

Just a few months ago, Kim was an global pariah accused of ordering the killing of his uncle, a half-brother and scores of officials suspected of disloyalty. He bounced to the Singapore summit after a tempestuous G-7 summit where the USA was isolated from its key European partners as never before and Trump even derided his Canadian host, a paragon of liberal democracy, as "dishonest" and "weak".

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Further complicating the task ahead: Trump says he wants any eventual deal to earn congressional approval, providing more assurance to Kim, and reducing the risk a future US Administration would reverse whatever agreement he strikes. Immediately after the encounter, Dennis Rodman - one of the only Americans to have met Kim - was openly weeping while being interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo.

Mr Kim spent the evening before the meeting visiting some of Singapore's tourist sites. "I could see Trump giving up a lot for very little in return".

It was a striking about-face from less than a year ago, when Trump was threatening "fire and fury" against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a "mentally deranged U.S. dotard".

The summit will be held at a hotel on Sentosa, a popular tourist island a few hundred metres off the Singapore mainland, at 09:00 local time (1pm NZT).

Commenting for the first time on the summit, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency said the two sides would exchange "wide-ranging and profound views" to re-set relations. It heralded the summit as part of a "changed era".

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And as they emerged from the meal for a brief stroll together, Trump appeared to delight in showing his North Korean counterpart the interior of "The Beast", the famed USA presidential limousine known for its high-tech fortifications.

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