President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a historic summit on June 12 in Singapore where the US leader will try to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. It will be the first ever summit between the leaders of the two countries. The two men exchanged fiery rhetoric last year over North Korea's attempts to build a nuclear weapon that could reach the United States but tensions have since calmed considerably.
"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 said on Twitter. Trump's announcement came just hours after three Americans who had been held prisoner in North Korea arrived at a US military base outside Washington, having been released by Kim.
Trump said on their arrival that he believed Kim wanted to bring North Korea "into the real world" and had high hopes for their planned meeting. "I think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful," Trump said. "My proudest achievement will be - this is part of it - when we denuclearize that entire peninsula."
South Korea government said it had high hopes for the summit. "We welcome the North Korea-US summit to be held in Singapore on June 12. We hope the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula as well as permanent peace on the peninsula will successfully come about through this summit."
The choice of Singapore will put the summit on friendly turf for Trump, as the island nation is a strong U.S. ally and the US Navy frequently visits its port.
US officials had looked at several sites other than Singapore for the historic meeting but each was seen as problematic.
Trump's own preference was for the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, but aides argued that this would look too much like Trump going to Kim's turf. A quick trip to Pyongyang was also seen as bad optics for Trump, U.S. officials said. Mongolia was considered but was seen as too close to China, they said.