SINGAPORE (AP) — In the latest twist in the drama-filled nuclear talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump announced on the eve of their historic meeting that he will be leaving Singapore early because the nuclear negotiations have moved “more quickly than expected.”
That was before the two had even met, and it was not clear whether it was good news or not.
No details were given on any possible progress in preliminary talks between aides at the talks. And the abrupt change in schedule came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had seemed to lower expectations for the meeting, which Trump had earlier predicted could potentially yield an on-the-spot end to the Korean War.
Instead, Pompeo suggested the summit, while historic, might yield little in the way of concrete success other than to pave the way for more meetings in the future.
On the day before the meeting, weeks of preparation appeared to pick up the pace, with U.S. and North Korean officials meeting throughout Monday at a Singapore hotel.
Trump spoke only briefly in public, forecasting a “nice” outcome for the summit during a meeting with Singapore’s prime minister. Kim spent the day mostly out of view — until he left his hotel for a late-night tour of Singapore sights, including the Flower Dome, billed as the world’s biggest glass greenhouse.
Trump’s early departure will be second from a summit in just a few days.
The sudden change in schedule added to a dizzying few days for foreign policy for Trump, who shocked U.S. allies over the weekend when he used a meeting of the Group of 7 industrialized economies in Canada to alienate America’s closest friends in the West. Lashing out over trade practices, he lobbed insults at the G-7 host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He left early, and as he flew to Singapore, he tweeted that he was yanking the U.S. out of the traditional group statement.
As Trump was trying to build a bridge with Kim, he was smashing longtime alliances with Western allies with his abrasive performance at the G-7. He continued to tweet angrily at Trudeau from Singapore, saying Monday “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.”
Trump advisers cast his actions as a show of strength before the Kim meeting. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CBS News in Washington that “Kim must not see American weakness.”