Singapore designates zone for Trump-Kim summit

Some US companies say Trump's tariffs are already hurting their business

Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are tentatively scheduled to meet at 9am Singapore time on 12 June, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said that planning for the historic summit continues. Before previous important meetings, including his summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April, Kim has limited his public activities and he is expected to be concentrating on preparations for the USA summit.

Senate Democrats on Monday released a letter to the Trump administration outlining the parameters of what they believe constitutes a satisfactory agreement - including a call for a permanent end to the North's nuclear, chemical and biological programs, a suspension of ballistic tests, and anytime-anywhere inspections.

Analysts see the shakeup as an effort to demonstrate Kim's mastery over hardline elements in his military and send a positive signal to the United States.

Kim Su Gil, chairman of the Pyongyang chapter of the Workers' Party replaced Kim Jong Gak, director of the Korean People Army's General Political Bureau.

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, all three of North Korea's top military leaders have been replaced, the Guardian reports.

The on-again-off-again summit is expected to focus on U.S. efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

In a remarkable shift in tone eight days after cancelling the summit, citing Pyongyang's "open hostility", Trump welcomed North Korea's former intelligence chief, Kim Yong Chol, to the White House on Friday, exchanging smiles and handshakes. "Abduction is a very important issue for me because it's very important to your prime minister", Trump said.

Kim Jong-un has shown similar patterns in the past from refraining from public activities as he prepared for major summits.

"It's easy to criticize Trump's approach, but it's an undeniable fact that he got North Korea moving to this stage", a diplomatic source based in Washington said Saturday. It is also not certain if any or all of the new leaders will accompany Kim Jong-un to Singapore for his meeting with Trump.

Any plan to ease sanctions under a deal with North Korea might need congressional approval. He's promised American investment in the under-developed country would follow.

Madden said any similar attempt to wrest power during the North Korean leader's absence was unlikely, pointing to Kim's previous trips to Beijing and Dalian in China, which went off without a hitch.

But while top level summits commonly require months of preparations, the run-up to the Trump-Kim summit has been marked by very little time and visible diplomacy.

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