….As U.S. hits five Russian firms with sanctions, citing cyberattacks***
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have become the first sitting US president and North Korean leader to meet, an unprecedented development after a year of exchanging threats.
The pair shook hands at a luxury hotel in Singapore’s Sentosa island before proceeding to talks.
Mr Trump said “a lot of progress” was made, and said he would soon attend a signing ceremony with Mr Kim.
They have been discussing defusing tensions and nuclear disarmament.
However, it is unclear what document the two leaders would be signing.
Analysts are split on what the summit will achieve. Some see it as a propaganda win for Mr Kim, others a potential path to peace.
The two men walked towards each other and firmly gripped each other’s hands in front of US and North Korean flags.
Mr Trump patted Mr Kim’s arm as they stood on red carpet and exchanged a few words before turning to face the gathered press.
The US president predicted a “terrific relationship” with the North Korean leader.
“I feel really great. We’re going to have a great discussion and will be tremendously successful,” Mr Trump said.
Sitting alongside each other, ahead of a one-on-one meeting, the pair appeared relaxed against the odds.
“It was not easy to get here,” Mr Kim said. “There were obstacles but we overcame them to be here,” and his counterpart responded “That’s true.”
The two men, accompanied only by interpreters, spoke for a little under 40 minutes. They were then joined by small delegations of advisors for a working lunch.
In the meantime, the Trump administration on Monday slapped sanctions on several Russian companies and businessmen for engaging in cyberattacks and assisting Russia’s military and intelligence services with other malicious activities.
The Treasury Department said it was imposing sanctions on five Russian firms and three of their executives under legislation passed last year and an executive order aimed at punishing efforts to hack into U.S. computer systems. The sanctions freeze any assets that those targeted may have in U.S. jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.
“The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
Treasury said the sanctions were a response to a number of cyberattacks, including last year’s NotPetya attack, as well as intrusions into the U.S. energy grid and global network infrastructure. It also said that Russia had been tracking undersea cables that carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data.
The companies affected are: Digital Security and its subsidiaries ERPScan and Embedi; the Kvant Scientific Research Institute; and Divetechnoservices. The three sanctioned men are Aleksandr Lvovich Tribun; Oleg Sergeyevich Chirikov; and Vladimir Yakovlevich Kaganskiy; all of whom work for Divetechnoservices.
Treasury said Digital Security had provided material and technological support to Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB. It said Divetechnoservices had procured a variety of underwater equipment and diving systems, including a submarine, for Russian government agencies.
BBC with additional report from NBC