Monday, October 15, 2018
Politics

Trump says he’ll size up Kim Jong Un ‘within the first minute’ of Singapore summit

SINGAPORE - President Trump predicted Saturday that he will know almost immediately when meeting Kim Jong Un whether the North Korean dictator is serious about negotiating a nuclear deal, suggesting his intuition is enough to size up the leader of the world’s most opaque authoritarian regime.

"Within the first minute, I’ll know," Trump said during a news conference in Quebec as he prepared to depart the Group of 7 summit en route to Singapore, where he is scheduled to meet Kim on Tuesday.

Asked how he’ll read Kim’s intentions so quickly, the president replied: "My touch, my feel. That’s what I do. You know the way they say you know if you like somebody in the first five seconds? Well, I think very quickly I’ll know whether something good is going to happen. I think I’ll also know whether it will happen fast."

Trump’s remarks came two days after he said he didn’t need to do a lot of preparation ahead of the historic summit because the interpersonal relationship between the two leaders would be the more important factor. Foreign policy analysts have said Kim is likely to attempt to get Trump to agree on mostly symbolic steps, including a peace deal to formally end the Korean War, while biding time on significant commitments toward denuclearization.

"I think that he’s going to surprise on the upside, very much on the upside, we’ll see," Trump said in Quebec of Kim. "But this has ever been done, never been tested."

As he has in recent days, however, the president again acknowledged that the summit is unlikely to achieve a major breakthrough, stating that at minimum he would like to "start a dialogue" with Kim.

"I’d like to accomplish more than that," Trump said. But if not, "at least we’ll have met each other, we’ll have seen each other, hopefully we’ll have liked each other. We’ll start that process. . . . But I think it will take a little bit of time."

Trump’s remarks came after an uncomfortable overnight visit to the G7 where he and the other world leaders struggled to bridge their differences on trade and other matters. The president appeared tired and subdued, and he demeaned the press corps, calling some U.S. news outlets "unbelievably dishonest" and "fake news" before aides pulled him away to start his journey to Southeast Asia.

After a long flight aboard Air Force One that will include a refueling stop, the president is scheduled to arrive in Singapore on Sunday evening.

This city-state of 5.5 million people bustled with anticipation as workers raced to finish security preparations for an event with little modern-day precedent.

Outside the luxury St. Regis hotel, just beyond a busy, upscale shopping corridor, construction crews hoisted concrete bollards into place around the perimeter of the five-star complex where the North Korean delegation is expected to stay.

Television news crews filmed the workers from the sidewalk and curious local residents stopped to take photographs.

A half-mile away at the Shangri-La Hotel, where the U.S. side will stay, Secret Service agents, in a casual uniform of khakis slacks and dark polo shirts, milled about the lobby. A yellow sign, featuring the silhouette of an officer holding a machine gun, was set up in the driveway reading, "Police checks, comply with police orders."

Singapore was selected as the host site because it has significant experience in staging major international events. But the Trump-Kim meeting will surpass them all in the sheer spectacle, a summit of global significance timed to begin squarely during prime time in the United States on Monday evening, a strategic decision by the ratings-conscious president.

Organizers have braced for more than 2,000 reporters, who will be housed in a makeshift media center at the Singapore’s Formula One race-pit building. The summit meeting will take place at 9 a.m. local time - 9 p.m. Monday Eastern time - at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa off Singapore’s southern coast.

Trump alluded to the historic nature of the event during his remarks in Quebec, calling it a "onetime shot" and urging Kim to seize the moment to "do something very positive for his people, for himself and for his family."

Kim has the "opportunity the likes of which, almost, if you look into history, very few people have ever had," Trump said. "He can take that nation, with those great people, and truly make it great."

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