With a handshake, Trump and Kim begin historic summit

The menu for a working lunch served to U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and their delegations during their summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore

Trump advisers cast his actions as a show of strength before the Kim meeting.

The combatants of the 1950-53 Korean War are technically still at war, as the conflict, in which millions of people died, was concluded only with a truce.

"It was not easy to get here", he said.

Members of the USA delegation, including U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo, right, and John Bolton, national security adviser, left, and North Korean advisers watch a television screen showing the meeting.

The flamboyant former basketball star also saw fit to pay tribute to those he said had not turned their back on his diplomatic efforts with Kim.

But other reports said it was Kim who made a decision to leave early, even though Trump was willing to stick around.

Less than a year ago, Trump was threatening "fire and fury" against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a "mentally deranged US dotard".

Rodman claimed that several officials, including former President Barack Obama, brushed him off and did not take his trips to North Korea seriously: "Obama didn't even give me the time of day", Rodman said.

"I guess the attention of all our people must now be directed toward Singapore", Moon said. "Many of us are praying for a successful meeting in #Singapore".

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Mr Kim was sent off in a ceremony at the Pyongyang airport joined by a group of senior officials, such as Mr Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal head of state, Mr Choe Ryong Hae, vice-chairman of the North's State Affairs Commission, and Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju.

The sides first spoke through intelligence channels, with United States analysts working to determine Kim's true willingness to abandon a nuclear program started by his grandfather and viewed by Pyongyang as a security blanket from outside aggressors.

The key will be whether the two leaders can narrow their differences over the definition of denuclearization.

This time, the Trump administration wants to destroy the weapons itself with assistance from other countries.

Sanctions will remain until North Korea completely and verifiably eliminates its weapons of mass destruction programs, added Pompeo. "If diplomacy does not move in the right direction ... those measures will increase".

At stake is the security of not just the Korean peninsula but the stability of the far East.

The global village eagerly anticipated extraordinary pictures from Singapore of the voluble 6-foot-3 American president, who turns 72 years old Thursday, greeting the 5-foot-7, 34-year-old reclusive dictator of North Korea less than a year after each basically threatened the destroy the other's country.

In the same statement, the White House said the talks between USA and North Korean officials were moving "more quickly than expected", though didn't elaborate on what precisely that meant for Trump's stated goal of securing North Korea's complete and verifiable denuclearization. At the same time, he'd admitted he doesn't believe he requires extensive preparation to take stock of Kim.

"Donald Trump was talking in conciliatory terms, nearly submissive, but his body language was clearly saying "I am in charge here", Pease said.

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