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TRUMP-KIM SUMMIT

US, N Korean leaders to meet at 9am on June 12

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North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol at the Oval Office with US President Trump on June 1. Mr Trump said that he was willing to embark on a lengthy series of talks that would ease pressure on the regime.

Washington

THE White House said on Monday that the first-ever meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place at 9am in Singapore on June 12.

"We are actively preparing for the June 12th summit between the President and the North Korean leader," spokesman Sarah Sanders said in announcing the timing of the meeting.

"We feel like things are continuing to move forward, and good progress has been made."

Ms Sanders said that the White House "advance team" - which features military, security, technical and medical staff - were already on the ground in Singapore. They are "finalising preparations and will remain in place until the summit begins".

Ms Sanders also said that Mr Trump is receiving daily briefings on North Korea from his national security team in the run-up to the landmark meeting.

Experts have voiced concern that despite Mr Trump's claim to be the world's greatest dealmaker, he knows little about North Korea, arms control or international diplomacy. The on-again-off-again summit is expected to focus on US efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme. The oppressive regime is believed to have developed a miniaturised nuclear device that could be placed on a missile that could strike the US.

Washington has called that unacceptable and demanded North Korea embark on full and verifiable denuclearisation. With just days to go before the meeting, it remains unclear whether Pyongyang is willing to take that step, or whether it is using the promise of talks as a way of easing Mr Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign.

Last week, Mr Trump said he no longer wanted to use that term and indicated that he was willing to embark on a lengthy series of talks that would ease pressure on the regime. "I think it will be a process," he said after welcoming top North Korean official Kim Yong Chol to the White House.

"It's not - I never said it goes in one meeting. I think it's going to be a process. But the relationships are building, and that's a very positive thing."

Mr Trump also said that there would be no new sanctions while the talks are taking place, although the White House was at pains to say existing economic sanctions will not be removed either.

Meanwhile, a day after declaring the area around Shangri-La Hotel a "special event area" for the summit, the Singapore government has similarly gazetted the island of Sentosa.

In an order made on Tuesday in the Government Gazette under the Public Order Act, the "special event area", which comprises all of Sentosa Island as well as waters off its south-west beaches, will take effect from June 10 to June 14.

The Capella Hotel, which observers have thrown up as one of the possible venues for the summit or where one of the two leaders will stay, sits within the gazetted portion of the island as do several other luxury hotels.

The US delegation had earlier been based at the Capella Hotel during talks in Singapore with Kim Chang Son, the de facto chief of staff for the North Korean government, to work out logistics for the summit last week.

However, there has been no official announcement made about the confirmed venue of the summit which will take place on June 12.

The government had announced on Monday that it gazetted the Tanglin area surrounding the Shangri-La Hotel, which similarly had been tipped as a likely venue for the summit.

The move imposes restrictions to certain activities within the delineated areas. People and vehicles who enter this area will see stricter security measures and may be subject to spot checks. These include bag and body checks. They may be asked to produce identification details. Drones and items such as flags, banners, signal flares and flammable materials will also not be allowed within the area.

In another order made on Tuesday, the government also declared that four vehicles will be exempted from certain traffic rules until June 30. Checks by The Straits Times show that all four vehicles are black 7-series BMWs. The exemptions for the vehicles include rules governing speed regulations, seat-belt requirements and the use of lamps or lights.

The exemption will take effect from the period of June 3 to 30, for the purposes of training or for conveying "non-citizen" individuals who take part in the summit or its related activities around Singapore, said the order. AFP

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