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Trump will meet Kim in Singapore on June 12

May 12,2018
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U.S. President Donald Trump, left, applauds as U.S. detainee Kim Dong-chul, second from right, gestures upon his return with Kim Hak-song, behind, and Tony Kim, second from left, after they were released by North Korea, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Thursday. [AP/YONHAP]
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U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore for a historic first summit between the two nations.

Trump tweeted, “The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”

Trump’s announcement put an end to South Korean hopes that the summit would take place in the border village of Panmunjom, bringing more international attention to South Korea’s part in the negotiations.

The announcement made clear that enough progress had been made in advance for a summit to take place, which would have been unimaginable last year, when Pyongyang and Washington swapped such harsh rhetoric that they seemed to be on the brink of war.

Singapore is considered a neutral country with the necessary infrastructure and security to host such a landmark summit, having prior experience putting together important meetings in a short period of time. Singapore has had diplomatic relations with Pyongyang since 1975, hosts a North Korean embassy, and has close ties to China.

It is within the range of Kim’s 1970s-era Chammae-1 private jet, which can fly stably non-stop for only up to around 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles). A flight from Pyongyang to Singapore takes around 6 hours and 30 minutes, and the distance is 4,700 kilometers, within the range of the Chammae-1, a Soviet aircraft.

Trump appeared buoyed by the North’s release of three Americans of Korean descent on Wednesday.

In his personal greeting to the three men freed from North Korea in the wee hours of Thursday at the Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, Trump raised the prospect of the successful summit with North Korean Kim, saying, “The fact that we were able to get them out so soon is a brilliant attribute to a lot of things, including a certain process that’s taking place right now,” adding, “And that process is very important.”

The former real estate mogul said succeeding to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula will be his “proudest achievement.”

“This is what people have been waiting for, for a long time. Nobody thought we could be on this track in terms of speed,” he said.

The Blue House welcomed the announcement made via Twitter. “We hope to see a permanent peace settlement and achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula,” said Spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom in a brief statement.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]