Kim covered by ‘wall of bodyguards’ strolls Singapore quay before meeting Trump

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a press briefing Monday, June 11, 2018 in Singapore one day before President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In tamping down expectations, Trump himself has described this initial meeting as the start of a process.

While the two leaders are hoping to hammer out the framework of a denuclearisation deal for the Korean peninsula, the USA and North Korea have yet to agree on what exactly denuclearisation would entail.

"I can only say this", Pompeo said.

"As you know, we've got a very interesting meeting tomorrow", Trump told Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hwien Loong on Monday.

While en route to Singapore, Trump said he looked forward to meeting Kim on what he anticipated would be an exciting day.

Kim has offered to deal away his nuclear arsenal but doubts remain over whether he is truly willing to give up his nukes or is using the summit to weaken US-led sanctions against his country. North Korea is seeking a security guarantee - possibly including a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War - and the removal of the US's nuclear umbrella protecting allies South Korea and Japan.

North Korean-US Summit
Image credit ULI-PwC report

During his meeting, Trump was presented with an early birthday cake.

The summit has officially begun, with Trump and Kim shaking hands and posing for photographs. Some analysts said a Kim commitment to specific negotiations on denuclearisation could well be enough for Tuesday's summit to be a success.

Pompeo's remarks suggest that the U.S. is looking for a short transition toward denuclearisation, according to Zhang Baohui, director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University in Hong Kong. Our standards have been lowered considerably, in this country; so long as he wears trousers the entire time, Trump will get his required praise.

"How awesome it would be if we are reunited like Germany!"

The sudden change in schedule added to a dizzying few days for foreign policy for Trump, who shocked US allies over the weekend when he used a meeting of the Group of 7 industrialized economies in Canada to alienate America's closest friends in the West. Lashing out over trade practices, he lobbed insults at the G-7 host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. "And he has that opportunity, and he won't have that opportunity again", Trump said.

In the weeks leading up to the summit in Singapore, Trump praised Kim as "very honorable" and "very open", a stark contrast from the "Little Rocket Man" moniker Trump had previously bestowed on the North Korean leader. "But I really feel confident".

Mr Lee, for his part, thanked Mr Kim for coming to Singapore, the farthest the North Korean leader has travelled out of his country since assuming power in 2011. "It's never going to be there again".

Vanessa Coleman