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Trump-Kim summit

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Trump and Kim will meet in front of the world's media, any progress will have to be swift

U. S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. Picture: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

FREUDIAN slips do not come any bigger than the one made on Sunday by a Fox News presenter, who was forced to apologise after she described today’s summit in Singapore as a “meeting between two dictators”. Abby Huntsman said: “This is history we are living, regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators. What we are seeing right now, this is history.”

Unsurprisingly, the pro-Donald Trump US satellite television news channel’s presenter apologised, tweeting: “Apologised on the show. I’ll never claim to be a perfect human being. We all have slip ups in life, I have many. Now let’s all move on to things that actually matter.”

Few will argue that the protagonists in today’s historic summit in Singapore – Trump and North Korean authoritarian Kim Jong-un – have giant egos. The summit is a meeting of two strongmen of 21st century politics.

Trump and Kim will meet in front of the world’s media at around 9am local time. Any progress will have to be swift – the North Korean delegation is reportedly scheduled to leave Singapore as early as five hours later.

Trump has previously said that nothing short of a commitment to total denuclearisation by the reclusive state will be good enough. Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, said Kim travelled to Singapore with the intention of meeting the US leader and “meet the changing demands of the new era”.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on the other hand, has expressed hope the summit will lead to a declaration to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. But the spokesman said it’s unlikely that such a declaration would take place while Trump and Kim were still in Singapore.

Trump has raised the possibility of further summits and an agreement ending the Korean War by replacing the armistice signed in 1953 with a peace treaty. China and South Korea would have to sign off on any legal treaty.

Whatever the outcome of today’s summit, it is unquestionable that the world – and especially the Korean peninsula – will be a safer place if Kim curtails his nuclear ambitions and Trump stops his sabre-rattling.

Still, it remains to be seen whether the Singapore summit will achieve anything in itself.

Even if it doesn’t, it is not the end of the process, but merely a significant historic moment at its beginning.

The chance to agree to a process of denuclearisation with Pyongyang is in itself a remarkable breakthrough.