President Trump just became the first U.S. president, and the second star of "The Celebrity Apprentice," to shake hands with Kim Jong Un.
Trump came face to face with North Korea’s supreme leader in Singapore on Tuesday morning just a few minutes after 9 local time, marking the official start of an unprecedented geopolitical gambit aimed at convincing the Hermit Kingdom to give up its nukes.
The two leaders kicked off the summit with a private meeting, joined only by their translators, that stretched for about 45 minutes. The action is unfolding at the Capella Hotel on Singapore’s Sentosa Island, an old pirate hangout turned into a neatly manicured resort covered in golf courses.
Trump and Kim met on a red carpet at the entrance to the hotel, where they posed in front of American and North Korean flags before moving indoors for a set of short introductory remarks to a group of assembled journalists.
Both leaders expressed optimism about the meeting ahead of them.
“I feel really great. We’re going to have a great discussion, and, I think, tremendous success,” Trump said. “It’s my honor. We will have a terrific relationship, I have no doubt.”
Kim, speaking through a translator, said, “The old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward, but we overcame all of them and we are here today.”
Gesturing toward the shuttering cameras, Trump even cracked something of a joke to Kim.
“They never stop,” he said.
The two then spent the better part of an hour together behind closed doors. Afterward, Trump and Kim emerged on the veranda of the hotel and waved to the assembled journalists.
Trump announced the two have an “excellent relationship,” and that the summit had so far been “very, very good.”
The meeting caps weeks of high-wire diplomacy: Even in the hours leading up to the summit’s launch, emissaries held feverish talks aimed at producing a joint statement both sides could endorse.
But there were some things no one could prepare for. With only minutes to go before Trump met with Kim, Trump tweeted that Larry Kudlow, the top White House economic advisor, had suffered a heart attack and been rushed to a hospital near Washington D.C.
There's another wild card in the summit: basketball legend Dennis Rodman, who is currently in Singapore, though it's still unclear if he'll join any of the talks.
Rodman remains one of the only people on earth to met both Trump and Kim, having visited North Korea five times, and appeared twice on Trump’s NBC reality show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump has claimed that his unfiltered, first-person approach, meeting with Kim in private, will enable him to get a read on the North Korean leader that will allow him to predict the success or failure of the meeting almost instantly.
“It’s going to be something that will always be spur of the moment,” he said before the meeting.
Asked at a press conference in Canada over the weekend when he’ll know if Kim is serious about making a nuclear deal, Trump replied, “How long will it take? I think within the first minute I’ll know.”
Cover image: AP