Yet it was Kim who stole the show in the hours before the summit, taking a surprise nighttime tour of Singapore's gleaming waterfront, a glass and steel testament to wealth and prosperity that offered a glimpse of what is possible if he chooses to open to the world.
The Pentagon has reassured allies of its "ironclad" security commitments, after President Donald Trump cancelled its Korean military exercises. -South Korea military exercises while talks with the North were continuing.
It included commitments by North Korea to "abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, " as well as to readmit worldwide inspectors. Trump said the negotiations he has initiated should help improve conditions in the isolated country, which successive U.S. administrations have targeted for gross human rights violations.
It appears to be composed nearly entirely of generic stock footage and old news clips, including images of Mr Trump and Mr Kim smiling.
"I had never in all my life ever dared to dream that dream", Yoon said. "Because it does not meet what I would call minimum requirements in terms of what we expect them to do and what they expect us to do". "We'll check it very strongly", he told reporters on Air Force One.
However, the Pentagon has since denied that Mr Mattis was caught off guard.
The summit is scheduled to begin at 9am, the White House said.
In a statement sent to the BBC, she said: "Our alliances remain ironclad, and ensure peace and stability in the region".
"South Korea is a little confused".
"I think without the rhetoric we wouldn't have been here", Trump said.
What are the war games?.
"We shouldn't pretend we haven't seen this movie before".
Mr Turnbull said the promise was "obviously part of the negotiating tactic" and emphasised the "alternative vision" Mr Trump was offering the North Korean regime.
Still, said Kovrig, it is too early to judge the summit either way. "Is this forever, or while the talks or going on, just for next month?"
At least one group of former North Koreans now living in Canada say Trump's new willingness to foster closer ties with Kim are unsafe, and criticized the president for focusing on denuclearization rather than seeking answers about human rights in the country.
To former South Korean foreign minister Yoon Young-kwan, Trump's attempt to start at the top with a political rather than narrowly military approach to North Korea nevertheless sets it apart from all that went before.
On nuclear weapons, Mr Kim "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula". Details of the document are not yet clear. "Scientifically, you have to wait certain periods of time, and a lot of things happen".
It also legitimized Kim, critics charged, feting a regime which stands accused of widespread human rights abuses.
The video was produced by the US Government to help persuade Mr Kim to make a deal, a White House official said. It was the first meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries, which are still technically in a state of war.
"Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, in a meeting to remake history, to shine in the sun", the narration announced.
On conservative Fox News and among Mr Trump's core supporters, the president was lauded for a historic diplomatic breakthrough.
Republicans in Congress have been more measured.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Trump on taking a "major step. that will lead to an historic peace".
Tuesday was the latest reminder that in just 16 months, U.S. - and global - politics have been turned upside down.
"Needless to say, we would've wrecked Obama for doing this", tweeted conservative blogger Allahpundit.
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