US, North Korea officials in final summit preparations

US President Donald Trump described the talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as a

SUSAN WALSH AP US President Donald Trump described the talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as a"friendly negotiation

President Donald Trump touched down in this Southeast Asian city-state Sunday evening, 36 hours before his highly anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is set to kick off.

The two were North Korean media workers waiting to capture images of their leader, who all North Koreans are duty bound to revere, arriving for a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The understated photo op belied the intensive behind-the-scenes negotiations that continued between the US and North Korean delegations less than 24 hours before Trump was scheduled to meet Kim at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, just off Singapore's southern coast. United States officials were quoted as saying that the two leaders could spend the first two hours alone with translators but not advisors.

The American president tweeted Monday morning: "Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!" The U.S. side included Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller. USA ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim and North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui are expected to have a final coordination session, . following the six rounds of meetings they had in the inter-Korean village of Panmunjom to discuss the summit agenda.

While North Korea spoke of establishing a new "permanent peace-keeping mechanism" and its state-run news agency hailed a "new era" in relations with the US, Trump tweeted about how pleased he was to be in Singapore.

However, Reuters reported that Mr Kim would be leaving Singapore at 2pm tomorrow, citing a source involved in planning his visit.

"Thank you very much", Trump said to reporters, as he turned to enter the banquet hall.

The mercurial United States leader has whipsawed on expectations for the meeting, signalling that it could be the beginning of a "process" of several meetings, only to call it a "one-time shot" for peace as he embarked for Singapore.

Lee met Kim on Sunday, hours after Kim arrived at Changi Airport on a Chinese plane, making his furthest overseas journey since becoming North Korean leader.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sung Kim, 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 to discuss final preparations for the meeting.

Trump, 71, landed at Paya Lebar Airbase on board Air Force One after cutting short his time at the G7 summit in Canada.

Citing an unnamed USA government official, .

Despite the initial high stakes of a meeting meant to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, the talks have been portrayed by Trump in recent days more as a get-to-know-each-other meeting.

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.

Sung Kim, a veteran diplomat who recently held talks with North Korean officials, led the US delegation in working level talks on Monday. The North Korean delegation, which was led by Choe Son Hui, the vice foreign minister, also was mum as it arrived a few minutes later.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in was not expected to arrive in Singapore on Tuesday, which also lowered expectations about whether a comprehensive peace treaty to end the Korean War would be formally signed.

In a New Year's address, Kim said his country had completed development of its nuclear program and would focus on economic development, suggesting a meeting with South Korea.

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