SINGAPORE — US President Donald Trump plans to depart early from his unprecedented summit with Kim Jong Un, the White House said Monday, declaring that nuclear talks with North Korea have moved “more quickly than expected.”
Trump had been scheduled to fly back to Washington on Wednesday morning after spending Tuesday with the North Korean leader in Singapore. But on the eve of the summit, he altered his schedule, opting to return at about 8 p.m. on Tuesday after a full day of meetings with Kim — almost 15 hours earlier than previously anticipated.
“The discussions between the United States and North Korea are ongoing and have moved more quickly than expected,” the White House said in a statement.
It wasn’t immediately clear what specific progress, if any, had been made in preliminary discussions between US and North Korean officials in the run-up to the Tuesday summit.
In fact, only hours before the White House announcement, US 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 deal to end the Korean War.
“We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks,” Pompeo said on Monday evening.
The summit — the first ever between a sitting US president and North Korea’s leader — was to kick off at 9 a.m., the White House said. After greeting each other, the two leaders planned to sit for a one on one meeting that a US official said could last up to two hours, with only translators joining them. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the plans and insisted on anonymity.
The White House said the daylong summit would also include a working lunch and a larger meeting involving aides to both leaders. On the US side, Trump was to be joined by Pompeo, chief of staff John Kelly, national security adviser John Bolton and US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, along with a few others.
Before flying home, Trump planned to speak to reporters in Singapore after concluding the summit, the White House said.
The last-minute change of schedule came as both sides finalized preparations for the meeting. Trump on Monday forecast a “nice” outcome, while Kim spent the day out of view.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.