North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump arrived in Singapore Sunday for an unprecedented summit, with Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal at the top of the agenda and the U.S. president calling it a "one-time shot" at peace.
But while their Tuesday summit is this week's headline event, the opening act left many observers fearing the worst.
While North Korea spoke of establishing a new "permanent peace-keeping mechanism" and its state-run news agency hailed a "new era" in relations with the US, Trump tweeted about how pleased he was to be in Singapore. On Friday, Trump told reporters that Russian Federation should be welcomed back into the group, which ejected Moscow after its 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Chairman Kim yesterday held a meeting with Prime Minister Lee.
Earlier this year, North Korean leader said he was ready to denuclearize and signed a corresponding agreement with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the inter-Korean summit in the truce village of Panmunjom in late April. But after briefly relenting, he shrugged off these many facts in favor of his feelings, sticking to his protectionist instincts.
A host of analysts argued that Trump's view of global trade (and posturing over Canada's own tariffs) was both misguided and ahistorical.
At 10am, North Korean vice-minister for foreign affairs, Choi Sun-hee, strode into the Ritz Carlton with her small team.
As he was trying to build a bridge with Kim, he was smashing longtime alliances with Western allies with his abrasive performance at the G-7.
Still, even as he turned his attention to the summit, Trump continued his blistering attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday, saying "Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal".
North Korea has so far presented Kim's sudden diplomatic overtures to his neighbors and to the United States as a logical next step following what Kim has claimed is the completion of his plan to develop a credible nuclear deterrent to what Pyongyang has long claimed is a policy of hostility and "nuclear blackmail" by Washington.
It's unclear what Trump and Kim might decide Tuesday.
"That is a different phrasing from this very broad denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", he said. "We must put the American worker first!"
For the USA, the term means North Korea relinquishing nuclear weapons - but Pyongyang may agree to do so only if certain conditions are fulfilled, experts warn.
Trump has said he hopes to make a legacy-defining deal for the North to give up its nuclear weapons, though he has recently sought to minimize expectations, saying more than one meeting may be necessary.
While advisers say Trump has been reviewing briefing materials, the president insists his gut instincts will matter most when he gets in the room with Kim. He told reporters he thinks he will know nearly immediately whether a deal can be made, saying: "I will know, just my touch, my feel. That's what I do".