Historic trip: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrives in Singapore on Sunday in this picture obtained from social media. Kim and US President Donald Trump will meet during a summit in Singapore on Tuesday that is being extensively covered by the world media. Picture: REUTERS
Historic trip: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrives in Singapore on Sunday in this picture obtained from social media. Kim and US President Donald Trump will meet during a summit in Singapore on Tuesday that is being extensively covered by the world media. Picture: REUTERS

Singapore — US President Donald Trump arrived in Singapore on Sunday for a historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that could lay the groundwork for ending a nuclear stand-off between the foes and the transformation of the isolated state.

Trump flew into Singapore’s Paya Lebar Air Base aboard Air Force One looking to strike a deal that will lead to the denuclearisation of one of the US’s bitterest foes, following a divisive meeting in Canada with some of Washington’s closest allies that further strained global trade ties.

After stepping down from Air Force One on a steamy tropical night, Trump was greeted by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

Asked by a reporter how he felt about the summit, Trump said: "Very good."

He then got into his limousine for the drive to his hotel in central Singapore.

North Korea’s Kim landed in Singapore earlier on Sunday.

When Trump and Kim meet on Tuesday at Sentosa, a resort island off Singapore’s port with a Universal Studios theme park and man-made beaches, they will be making history.

Enemies since the 1950-53 Korean War, leaders of North Korea and the US have never met previously — or even spoken on the telephone.

Kim arrived at Singapore’s Changi Airport after his longest trip overseas as head of state, wearing his trademark dark "Mao suit" and distinctive high-cut hairstyle.

Arriving on a plane loaned by China, he was also greeted by Singapore’s Balakrishnan.

Travelling with Kim were top officials including Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Kim Yong-chol, a close aide of Kim who has been instrumental in the diplomacy that culminated in Tuesday’s summit.

Kim Yo-jong, leader Kim’s younger sister, was also spotted in his delegation.

She emerged as an influential figure in Pyongyang’s opaque leadership in February, when she led a North Korean delegation to the winter Olympics in South Korea.

Officials who arrived with Trump include Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. Bolton’s hardline rhetoric in May infuriated North Korea and nearly derailed the summit. He called for North Korea to follow a "Libya model" in negotiations. Libya unilaterally surrendered its nuclear programme in 2003, but its leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was killed in 2011 by Nato-backed rebels.

Trump, speaking in Canada on Saturday, said any agreement at the summit would be "spur of the moment", underscoring the uncertain outcome of what he called a "mission of peace".

Senior US officials, echoing what Trump has said in recent days, said that at a minimum they would like the summit to serve as a start of a dialogue with North Korea.

They expect the North Koreans to ask for security guarantees including a pledge that the US and South Korea will not invade, and also a request for economic aid.

The Trump administration has already said it does not seek "regime change" and has no intention of sending its forces into the country.

Washington has refrained from promising economic aid but has suggested this could come from South Korea, China and Japan if Pyongyang agrees to denuclearise.

Kim met Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong soon after his arrival, driving from the St Regis Hotel where he is staying, through the famous Orchard Road shopping district, which was closed off for his tightly guarded motorcade.

At the hotel lobby, grim-faced North Korean security guards warned other hotel guests not to take pictures as Kim walked to his Mercedes-Benz limousine.

In his first public comments since arriving in Singapore, Kim said Singapore’s role would be recorded in history if the summit was a success.

Trump, who is staying at the Shangri-La Hotel, is due to meet Lee on Monday.

Reuters