While the Air Force One carrying Donald Trump landed in Singapore on Sunday evening, Kim Jong-un reportedly travelled by a Chinese plane, deployed for his personal use, and was received by Singaporean foreign minister.
Kim's very meeting with Trump is a major victory for him, something he is using both at home and overseas.
A picture of Trump smiling at the cake, decorated with fresh fruit, was shared on Twitter by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with the message: "Celebrating birthday, a bit early", as Trump turns 72 on Thursday.
The North has presented Kim's sudden diplomatic overtures to the country's neighbours and the USA as a logical next step and completion of his plan to develop a credible nuclear deterrent in response to what Pyongyang says is a policy of "nuclear blackmail" by Washington.
"The entire world is watching the historic summit between [North Korea] and the United States of America", Kim told Lee through an interpreter when they met Sunday.
Image Kim Yo Jong also enjoyed a walkabout in Singapore
Ahead of his arrival, Trump acknowledged he is heading into "unknown territory" for the meeting Tuesday.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim are both looking for political victories that will help them at home. And he won't have that opportunity again.
Kim's main concern is the survival of his own regime - South Korean President Moon Jae-in told reporters that the Pyongyang leader had "concerns on whether he could trust that the USA would end its hostile policy and guarantee the security of his regime when the North denuclearises itself".
Previous agreements with the North have subsequently collapsed and experts warn Kim is highly unlikely to give up the "treasured sword" of his nuclear deterrent. Progress could lead to a peace treaty and formally end a state of war on the Korean peninsula, which has persisted for almost 70 years.
Whether such a deal can be done, Trump declared on Saturday, is something he will know nearly from the moment they meet. "We appreciate your hospitality and professionalism and friendship.You're my friend", Trump told Lee, according to the news agency. "But I think that will take a little bit of time".
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"It's unknown territory, in the truest sense", Trump said during the G-7.
Trump acknowledged the difficulty of gleaning much information concerning Kim, who has scant experience on the worldwide stage and about whom foreign intelligence agencies have struggled to gather much beyond basic biographical data.
"I think it would be very odd if Kim didn't feel at least a pang of concern in this regard", said Andrew O'Neil, dean of the Griffith Business School at Griffith University in Australia.
Pompeo also said that Trump had called Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean president Moon Jae-in.
And what should Mr Trump bring as a gift?
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"The North Korean system is predicated on hostility... and what Kim Jong Un is doing is going way out of that comfort zone and he's saying we can reconcile". "Obviously what has been done before hasn't worked".
Speaking ahead of Tuesday's US-North Korea summit in Singapore, Mr Pompeo said preliminary talks between senior officials were continuing and moving quite rapidly.
Pompeo has maintained that complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization is the "only outcome" acceptable to the US and that the Trump administration hopes ultimately to reach an agreement with the North Koreans that it can submit to Congress "so that when administrations do change, as they inevitably do, and this one will ... that Chairman Kim will have comfort that American policy will continue down the same path".
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It also added momentum - however tenuous - to efforts to start a peace process that could finally end almost 17 years of fighting. The ceasefire excludes attacks on foreign forces. "We wanted them to be confident that we also won't do any operations".