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Singapore Summit Preview

Jun 10, 2018
Originally published on June 11, 2018 10:41 am
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

The key figures in the high stakes, history-making summit between the United States and North Korea are getting ready for Tuesday's summit in Singapore. That's the neutral location of the meeting President Trump hastily agreed to, briefly backed out of and now is expected to follow through on. Our Korea correspondent, Elise Hu, is in Singapore with a preview. Good morning.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So tell us the scene there.

HU: It's extremely hot out here in Singapore, and security is quite tight. But despite the heat and all of the blocked roads, when Kim Jong Un arrived here in Singapore, there were just throngs of onlookers and press out on the streets along his motorcade hoping to catch a glimpse of him. This is the farthest from home that Kim Jong Un has traveled since taking the helm of the regime in 2011. Airspace is restricted here in Singapore because of the summit. Thousands of police are working extra hours to help secure the event. And to give you an idea of just how big of a media frenzy, how big of a media spectacle this is going to be, Singapore officials tell us that there are more than 2,500 credentialed journalists here. Japan's national broadcaster sent a hundred journalists alone just for the day of the summit itself. So it's going to be a big, big spectacle.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wow. That's a lot of people. What do we know, though, about what will be happening between the two leaders, the substance of the event?

HU: We don't know a whole lot about the schedule, Lulu. So far on the schedule, both leaders met separately or are to meet separately with the Singaporean prime minister. Monday, they get a day off before the summit happens at 9 a.m. on Tuesday on a tiny resort island in Singapore. But, really, there is no substantive details beyond that, that they're going to meet at 9 a.m. President Trump was asked how he would know if Kim Jong Un is serious about denuclearizing. And Trump said that he's going to kind of improvise and know by instinct.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know if you're going to like somebody in the first five seconds. You ever hear that one? Well, I think that very quickly I'll know whether or not something good is going to happen. I also think I'll know whether or not it will happen fast.

HU: North Koreans, on the other hand, have been quite deliberate about developing their program and deliberate in their strategy. So it's going to be interesting to see what demands that they have from the U.S. and the international community in exchange for steps toward denuclearization.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. President Trump has said this is sort of a one-time deal for North Korea, and these two leaders have very big contrasts in styles. The two countries have never had any diplomatic ties. So what kind of outcome do you think we can expect?

HU: We don't know what sort of outcome can be expected. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that he hopes that there's going to be some kind of joint declaration coming out of this, but that's not clear. Typically, these head-of-state-level meetings are choreographed in advance. This is the opposite. This is going to be two heads of state who are larger than life who have never met before meeting. And then, you know, Trump is - says himself that he's going to decide a lot in the room. So we'll see.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: NPR's Elise Hu in Singapore, thank you so much.

HU: You bet. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.