Pompeo boasts progress towards Trump-Kim deal

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Kim Jong Un

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Kim Jong Un"personally assured him denuclearisation was on the table

THE Singapore government is spending about S$20 million to host this week's unprecedented meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with security costs coming up to roughly half that amount.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, who has taken the lead on policy negotiations with the North, will hold a working group with a North Korean delegation at 10 a.m. Monday local time, or 10 p.m. Sunday on the U.S. East Coast.

Even so, the summit continues to be a highly sensitive topic in North Korea and it is hard - even more so than usual - to get people to express their opinions about it.

By prominently showing the Air China jet that flew Kim to Singapore, the reports also made no secret of China's important role behind the scenes. Kim arrived at Singapore's commercial airport on an Air China Boeing 747 just more than five hours earlier.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un were preparing for their historic summit in Singapore as both sides tried to narrow differences before the two leaders come face to face on Tuesday. "And he has that opportunity, and he won't have that opportunity again".

Earlier in the day, a team of USA negotiators arrived at the Ritz-Carlton hotel to meet with its North Korean counterparts to try to nail down final details for the summit, the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

At the Istana, Lee's official residence, the president shook hands with the prime minister, but Trump declined to answer shouted questions from reporters before the two leaders joined their aides for a luncheon.

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After a flurry of contacts between the two Koreas, South Korean officials suggested to Trump in March that Kim would be willing to meet face-to-face.

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. Kim Yong Chol, the North Korean leader's right-hand man, and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui were also included in the entourage.

But Pyongyang is demanding as yet unspecified security guarantees and the end of what it calls a "hostile policy" towards it, and has not made clear what concessions it is offering over the nuclear arsenal it calls its "treasured sword" to defend against a USA invasion. It's a reflection of the intense global curiosity over Kim's sudden turn to diplomacy in recent months after a slew of North Korean nuclear and missile tests a year ago raised serious fears of war.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sung Kim, the United States ambassador to the Philippines who has taken the lead on policy negotiations with the North, will hold a "working group" with a North Korean delegation to discuss final preparations for the meeting.

It's Kim's pursuit of nuclear weapons that gives his meeting with Trump such high stakes.

It is the farthest Kim has travelled since inheriting power in 2011, and only his third known trip outside the country since then, with the use of a Chinese plane raising questions over the state of North Korea's ageing fleet of Soviet-built aircraft. "It's North Korea", said one Western tourist with a shrug. The remark indicates considerable expectations in North Korea for a successful summit, while some skeptics do not rule out the possibility that the North may eventually label any summit results a success.

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