By John Wagner and David Nakamura,
President Trump announced Thursday that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will occur June 12 in Singapore, a high-stakes step in his bid to rid the region of nuclear weapons.
Trump made the announcement via Twitter just hours after welcoming home three Americans held captive for more than a year in North Korea.
President Trump, Vice President Pence and first lady Melania Trump arrive at Joint Base Andrews to greet the three American prisoners who were freed from North Korea.
“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” Trump wrote in his tweet. “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/994587349718847489">
Trump had previously floated other possible locations, including the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea, where Kim met last month with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which he said held the potential for being a “great celebration.”
But White House aides have been eying Singapore, a tiny island nation of 5.6 million that boasts one of the most advanced economies in Southeast Asia.
Singapore maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea, which has an embassy and ambassador in the country. Singapore’s ambassador based in Beijing also is responsible for Pyongyang.
“Singapore is an ideal location for this summit,” said David Adelman, an attorney at ReedSmith who served as U.S. ambassador to the nation from 2010 to 2013 under former president Barack Obama.
“Really since its founding, Singapore has carefully cultivated a reputation where East meets West. ... They take great pride in being a friend to all. And they’ve done a great job doing so.”
The country has been the site of other high-profile summits. It plays host to an annual regional security conference, called the Shangri-La Dialogue, which usually draws the U.S. defense secretary and top officials from China and other nations. In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and then-Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou met in Singapore, the first meeting between the leaders of those two countries in seven years.
The Trump-Kim summit would be the first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
Trump has spoken in increasingly positive terms about the summit, while cautioning that he is prepared to walk away if progress isn’t being made. Trump has said any deal will have to include the denuclearization of the rogue nation.
“We’re starting off on a new footing,” Trump told reporters early Thursday as he welcomed the detainees back at Joint Base Andrews. “This is a wonderful thing that he released the folks early. That was a big thing, very important to me, and I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful.”
To a question about Kim’s motivation, Trump said of the authoritarian leader: “I think he did this because I really think he wants to do something and bring that country into the real world. I really believe that.”
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