North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un arrived in Singapore for his meeting with President Donald Trump on a private jet believed to belong to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang because of fears his aircraft could not make the flight, according to Hong Kong’s Apple Daily.
Kim’s aircraft, the Soviet-era Chammae-1, is believed to have the ability to travel up to 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles), meaning the 4,600-kilometer (2,858-mile) trip to Singapore is easily within distance. However, he reportedly asked for assistance from the Chinese over concerns that his jet is too old.
The B-2447 aircraft Kim uses appears to belong to Li Keqiang, premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. The deal letting Kim use it may have been negotiated during his recent visit to Dalian, China, to meet Communist leader Xi Jinping.
When used as a private jet, the aircraft’s interior reportedly contains a reception, office area, and private bedroom. However, unlike the U.S. president’s Air Force One, the plane does not carry protective artilleries, and when Li is not using it, it operates as a normal chartered aircraft.
On Monday, Pyongyang’s media admitted Kim’s aircraft came from China after the 34-year-old dictator touched down in Singapore on a plane emblazoned with the Chinese flag.
As noted by Yonhap News Agency, “It is very uncommon for Pyongyang’s media to reveal the charter of a foreign airplane in its leader’s overseas trip, particularly because the North Korean government has long promoted the Juche (self-reliance) ideology and slogans in all state affairs.”
However, the Straits Times also suggests that Pyongyang “may have revealed the charter of a Chinese airplane to demonstrate its close relationship with China in the face of international sanctions led by the US.”
Although China remains North Korea’s closest ally, its government has come under increasing pressure during the past year to take a tougher approach to its communist neighbor in an attempt to rid it of its nuclear weapons.
The Chinese Communist Party, largely through state media, has previously expressed its desire to play an important role in any talks between North Korea and the United States and has spoken of its refusal to be “marginalized” in any peace process.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump arrived in Singapore for his meeting with Kim, telling reporters he felt “very good” about the upcoming summit. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later said a pledge of “irreversible denuclearization” would be the only acceptable outcome for the U.S. from such talks:
"The complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korea peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept," Sec. of State Mike Pompeo says ahead of tomorrow's Trump-Kim summit. https://t.co/aoaEPxLeMD pic.twitter.com/0DbaP8p8Ru
— ABC News (@ABC) June 11, 2018
“The ultimate objective we seek with diplomacy with North Korea has not changed,” Pompeo said. “The complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korea peninsula is the only outcome that the United States will accept.”