Asia Pacific / Politics

North Korea's Kim expected to land at Singapore's Changi Airport on Sunday: source

Reuters, Kyodo

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to fly into Singapore’s Changi Airport on Sunday ahead of a high-stakes summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, a source involved in the planning of the trip said Friday.

Pictures of U.S. military aircraft at nearby Paya Lebar air base, including a white-topped helicopter commonly used for transporting high-ranking U.S. officials, were published in a newspaper Friday.

Talks between the leaders on June 12 are expected to center on ending the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles programs in return for diplomatic and economic incentives.

Changi Airport directed a query to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. The Aviation Authority did not immediately have comment.

Neither delegation has made its travel plans public.

Media said Trump was likely to arrive at the Paya Lebar air base, where previous U.S. presidents landed on visits to Singapore.

Since becoming the North’s leader in 2011, Kim has only taken one known overseas trip by air — to Dalian in China in early May — flying in his personal Ilyushin-62M jet and accompanied by a cargo plane.

Singapore is easily in the range of the Soviet-era narrow-body Il-62M aircraft that flies on four engines, but some media speculated that it may stop in China as a precaution since it was not frequently used in recent years for such a long distance.

On Thursday, Singapore’s government said it would temporarily lift U.N.-related sanctions it had imposed against trade with North Korea from Saturday to help facilitate preparations for the unprecedented summit.

The government said in a gazette that the special treatment will only apply to goods from or to North Korea for the purpose of holding the summit.

The sanctions will be suspended for the period of Saturday to Thursday, it said.

Trump and Kim are scheduled to hold talks starting Tuesday, and possibly extending longer, on Singapore’s resort island of Sentosa.

Singapore had suspended trade relations with North Korea since November, prohibiting all goods from or to North Korea from being imported, exported, transshipped or brought in transit through Singapore in accordance with the sanctions imposed by the United Natiosn Security Council over Pyongyang’s flurry of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

In March, Singapore also revoked all work passes for North Korean nationals in the city-state.

In another development Friday, two South Korean staffers of the Korean Broadcasting System News were arrested for alleged “criminal trespass” into the residence of the North Korean ambassador in Singapore.

No further details were available about their alleged offense.