North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore Sunday for an unprecedented summit with Donald Trump, an attempt to address the last festering legacy of the Cold War, with the US president calling it a “one time shot” at peace.
Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal — which has seen it subjected to several sets of UN Security Council sanctions and threatened with military action by the Trump administration — will top the agenda.
Bringing the Korean War to a formal end 65 years after hostilities ceased will also be on the table at the first-ever summit between a North Korean leader and a sitting president of its “imperialist enemy”.
Kim arrived in Singapore on board an Air China 747 that according to flight tracking website Flightradar24 took off from Pyongyang in the morning ostensibly bound for Beijing, then changed its flight number midair and headed south.
The city-state’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with Kim at Changi Airport, and the North Korean leader was driven into the centre in a stretch Mercedes-Benz limousine, accompanied by a convoy of more than 20 vehicles.
Kim was due to meet Singaporean President Lee Hsien Loong later on Sunday, the city-state’s foreign ministry said, while Trump was flying from Canada on board Air Force One after leaving the G7 summit early.
Authorities imposed tight security around the summit venue and related luxury hotels — including installing extra pot plants outside Kim’s expected accommodation to obstruct reporters’ views.
– ‘Not just a photo op’ –
Tuesday’s Singapore meeting is the climax of the astonishing flurry of diplomacy on and around the Korean peninsula this year, but critics charge that it risks being largely a triumph of style over substance.
Washington is demanding the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation (CVID) of the North, while Pyongyang has so far only made public pledges of its commitment to the denuclearisation of the peninsula — a term open to wide interpretation — while seeking security guarantees.
Former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage expected little progress on the key issue of defining denuclearisation.
“The success will be in the shutter clicks of the cameras,” he said. “They both get what they want.”
Trump insisted last week that the summit would “not be just a photo op”, saying it would help forge a “good relationship” that would lead to a “process” towards the “ultimate making of a deal”.
But as he embarked for Singapore he changed his tune, calling it a “one-time shot” and adding he will know “within the first minute” whether an agreement will be possible.
“If I think it won’t happen, I’m not going to waste my time,” he said.
He has also dangled the prospect of Kim Jong Un visiting Washington if the meeting goes well.
But even the merit of the event itself — long sought by the North, and which Trump apparently impulsively agreed to in March, reportedly without consulting his advisers — has been called into question.
“People call it a historic summit but… it is important to understand that this summit was available to any US president who wanted to do it and the point is no US president wanted to do this, and for good reasons,” said Christopher Hill, a former lead US nuclear negotiator with North Korea.
– Decades of tensions –
The two countries have been at loggerheads for decades.
The North invaded the South in 1950 and the ensuing war saw US-led UN troops backing Seoul fight their way to a stalemate against Pyongyang’s forces which were aided by Russia and China, before the conflict ended in stalemate and an armistice which sealed the division of the peninsula.
Sporadic provocations by the North have continued while Pyongyang has made increasing advances in its nuclear arsenal, which it says it needs to defend against the risk of a US invasion.
Last year it carried out by far its most powerful nuclear test to date and launched missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, sending tensions soaring to a level unseen in years as a newly-elected Trump traded threats of war and colourful personal insults with Kim, with Trump dubbed a “dotard” and Kim “Little Rocket Man”.
But the South’s Winter Olympics in February catalysed a flurry of diplomatic moves as Seoul’s dovish leader Moon Jae-in sought to bring the two sides together.
Kim has met twice with both Moon and Xi Jinping, the president of China, long the North’s most important ally.
Pyongyang has taken some steps to show sincerity, returning US detainees and blowing up its nuclear test site.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week that progress was being made in bringing the two sides together in their understanding of denuclearisation.
But Trump — for whom a major accomplishment would bolster his position ahead of midterm elections in November — baffled observers when he said he did not think he had to prepare “very much” for the summit.
“It’s about attitude,” Trump said. “So this isn’t a question of preparation.”
”I am not involved in inter/intra party politics” – Pastor Adeboye denies begging Tinubu on behalf of Ambode
There have been reports that the former Lagos state governor Bola Tinubu, had allegedly decided to stop Ambode’s bid for a second term in office by replacing him with Babajide Sanwoolu. This according to the same report, led to an alleged phone conversation between Pastor Adeboye and Tinubu, in which the general overseer begged Tinubu not to dump Ambode.
But in a statement issued on Pastor Adeboye’s social media accounts, RCCG General Overseer has denied ever making the call.
“Our attention has been drawn to news making the rounds from dailies especially the New Telegraph that Pastor E.A Adeboye, the General Overseer of the RCCG had a recent phone conversation with the Leader of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
“We would like to inform the general public that this is false and Pastor E.A Adeboye has not and would not be involved in inter/intra party politics in Nigeria and anywhere RCCG is present across the world. Pastor E.A Adeboye advises all well meaning Nigerians just like him to get their PVCs and exercise their civic duty.
Pope Francis expels Chilean priest Christian Precht amid sex abuse scandal
Pope Francis has expelled the Chilean priest Cristian Precht Bañados who is under investigation for child sex abuse.
The Archdiocese of Santiago said the Pope had decided to defrock the Reverend, Cristian Precht, local daily El Mercurio reported.
Precht was a former head of the Church’s Vicariate of Solidarity human rights group that in the 1980s had challenged ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet to end the practice of torture in Chile. The well-known Chilean religious leader has since been accused of sexual abuse as part of the investigation into allegations against members of the Marist Brothers religious community. Precht has previously denied the charges.
Precht’s defrocking is the first formal resignation the Pope has decreed since every bishop in Chile offered to step down in May over the country’s sex abuse scandal. The move is thought to be unprecedented in the modern history of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis announcement comes as Chilean police raid church offices throughout the Andean nation looking for new cases of sexual abuse or evidence that church officials concealed abuse from authorities.
Buhari presiding over a divided Nigeria, says Saraki
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari is currently overseeing a divided Nigeria.
Saraki, a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said this in Abeokuta , Ogun State on Monday.
He was in the state to meet with PDP delegates ahead of the next month presidential primary.
The former Governor was accompanied by a leader of R-APC Kawu Baraje, ex-governor of Kogi State, Idris Wada, Director-General of his campaign organization, Muhammad Wakil and a Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye.
Saraki said Nigeria no longer need a sectional leader like President Buhari.
“Today in Nigeria, we are here at the crossroads. The country is divided and to unite the country, we need someone who will make everybody feel a sense of belonging.
“Today, there is no sense belonging in some parts of the country.
“We need a president that rules and represents Nigeria. We want a president where everybody will say they belong here. Where there is no unity, there can never be progress.
“After unity, we can talk about development and progress.
“A lot of our people are suffering because you cannot give what you don’t have. We need a visionary leader. It is time for us in Nigeria to have a visionary leader. We need a man that has the ability and that can perform.
“Today, there is a new order over the world; we have seen it in Asia, America, and Europe. We are seeing people bringing in new, dynamic and energetic presidents and more importantly, digital presidents.
“When we talk about insecurity, it takes a courageous leader to say this is right and this is wrong, this is fair and this is unfair.
“It is time we have a leader that will stand for justice, to do things the way it needs to be done. We should stop saying presidents can only come from one part of the country.
“We should start asking who is more capable, who is ready to carry the people along?” Saraki added.
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