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Trump: Kim summit better than anybody could imagine

The meeting was the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un have come together for a momentous summit, with the US president saying the meeting went “better than anybody could imagine”.

In a meet-up that seemed unthinkable just months ago, Mr Trump and Mr Kim met with staged ceremony at a Singapore island resort.

Before the watching world, they strode toward each other and clasped hands warmly before a row of alternating US and North Korean flags.

The duo then moved into a roughly 40-minute one-on-one meeting, joined only by their interpreters, before including their advisers for additional talks.

For all the upbeat talk, it was an open question what, if any, concrete results the sit-down would produce.

Emerging from a working luncheon with Mr Kim, Mr Trump said the two leaders planned to hold a signing ceremony shortly. He did not specify what they planned to sign.

“We’re going to be announcing that in a couple of minutes,” Mr Trump said.

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Donald Trump meets with Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island (Evan Vucci/AP)

In advance of their private session, Mr Trump predicted “tremendous success” while Mr Kim said through an interpreter that “we have come here after overcoming” obstacles.

Aware that the eyes of the world were on a moment many people never expected to see, Mr Kim said many of those watching would think it was a scene from a “science fiction movie”.

In the run-up to the meeting, Mr Trump had predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days.

But in the hours before the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Mr Trump would depart Singapore earlier than expected — Tuesday evening — raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.

Giving voice to the anticipation felt around the world, South Korean president Moon Jae-in said he “hardly slept” before the summit.

Mr Moon and other officials watched the live broadcast of the summit before a South Korean Cabinet meeting in his presidential office.

After meeting privately and with aides, Mr Trump and Mr Kim moved into the luncheon at a long flower-bedecked table.

As they entered, Mr Trump injected some levity to the day’s extraordinary events, saying: “Getting a good picture everybody? So we look nice and handsome and thin? Perfect.”

Then they dined on beef short rib confit along with sweet and sour crispy pork.

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Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un walk from lunch at the Capella resort (Anthony Wallace/pool/AP)

And as they emerged from the meal for a brief stroll together, Mr Trump appeared to delight in showing his North Korean counterpart the interior of “The Beast”, the famed US presidential limousine known for its high-tech fortifications.

Critics of the summit leapt at the leaders’ handshake and the moonlight stroll Mr Kim took Monday night along the glittering Singapore waterfront, saying it was further evidence that Mr Trump was helping legitimise Mr Kim on the world stage as an equal of the US president.

Mr Kim has been accused of horrific rights abuses against his people. During his stroll, crowds yelled out Mr Kim’s name and jostled to take pictures, and the North Korean leader posed for a selfie with Singapore officials.

Mr Trump responded to such commentary on Twitter, saying: “The fact that I am having a meeting is a major loss for the US, say the haters & losers.”

But he added “our hostages” are back home and testing, research and launches have stopped.

Mr Trump also tweeted: “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly … but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”

The summit capped a dizzying few days of foreign policy activity for Mr Trump, who shocked US allies over the weekend by using a meeting in Canada of the G7 to alienate America’s closest friends in the West.

Lashing out over trade practices, Mr Trump lobbed insults at his G7 host, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau.

Mr Trump left that summit early and, as he flew to Singapore, tweeted that he was yanking the US out of the group’s traditional closing statement.

As for Singapore, the White House said Mr Trump was leaving early because negotiations had moved “more quickly than expected” but gave no details. The president planned to stop in Guam and Hawaii on the way back to Washington.

The unfolding summit was a remarkable change in dynamics from less than a year ago, when Mr Trump was threatening “fire and fury” against Mr Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a “mentally deranged US dotard”.

Beyond the impact on both leaders’ political fortunes, the summit could shape the fate of countless people — the citizens of impoverished North Korea, the tens of millions living in the shadow of the North’s nuclear threat, and millions more worldwide.

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