U.S. President Donald Trump said June 11 that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore could "work out very nicely" as officials from both countries met in Singapore to make final preparations for the event.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a news conference on June 11 that preparations were moving quite rapidly and "and we anticipate that they will come to their logical conclusion even more quickly than we anticipated."
The discussions between Trump and Kim on June 12 are expected to focus on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.
The summit provides "an unprecedented opportunity to change the trajectory of our relationship and bring peace and prosperity" to North Korea, Pompeo said.
But Pompeo declined to indicate that a quick breakthrough was possible, saying instead that the summit should set the framework for "the hard work that will follow."
He said North Korea must achieve complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization, adding that sanctions will not be lifted until that happened.
"If diplomacy does not move in the right direction...those measures will increase," Pompeo said.
Pompeo also said Washington would offer "different and unique" guarantees "to provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearization is not something that ends badly for them." He refused to go into details about those guarantees.
But North Korea has long sought an end to the U.S. military presence in South Korea where Washington has around 28,000 troops stationed.
Pyongyang has demanded the end of what it calls a "hostile policy" toward it by the United States.
Late on June 11, word emerged from the gathering in Singapore that Trump and Kim would start the summit by meeting one-on-one, alone except for a pair of translators.
Those reports unleased a storm of criticism on social media from U.S. national security veterans who said having aides present would ensure staffers are on hand to take accurate notes.
After their spending about an hour together on their own, Trump and Kim are expected to continue their talks with the full delegations from both of their countries.
Just hours ahead of the June 12 talks were due to begin, Kim left his luxury hotel for a nighttime stroll around some of Singapore's main sights.
He even posed for selfies with his guide, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
Trump and Kim arrived hours apart on June 10 in Singapore, preparing for the June 12 meeting on the resort island of Sentosa, which will be the first time a sitting U.S. president will meet with a North Korean leader.
At a working lunch with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Trump voiced optimism, telling Lee, "We've got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely."
On June 10, Trump had said he would know "within a minute" if Kim was serious about giving up his nuclear weapons.
Besides Pompeo, Trump's delegation includes national security adviser John Bolton, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, and White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders.
North Korean defectors and human rights campaigners have called for human rights abuses in North Korea to be highlights at the summit.
"It is not time to focus on nuclear weapons. It is time to focus on how North Korea oppresses its people," Yeonmi Park, a defector who now lives in New York, told Reuters on June 11.
The United Nations also has called for human rights issues to be included in the negotiations.
Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea, has said that "a human rights dialogue should be included" in the talks "for this new process to be successful."
"Human rights and security and peace are interlinked, definitely," Quintana said on June 7.
Quintana also called on North Korea to issue "a general amnesty to release hundreds of prisoners who are under detention" in order to signal "their willingness to commit to the UN human rights principles."
When asked on June 9 whether he would raise the issue of North Korea's gulags and rights abuses, Trump said "We're going to raise every issue."
Meanwhile, Tehran has advised North Korea to be wary of negotiating with Trump following his withdrawal from Iran's 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on June 11 that North Korea should approach this week's summit with Trump with "awareness."
Ghasemi said Iran views Trump and the United States with "great pessimism" over "quitting treaties and violating their commitments."