The safe choice? Singapore to host first-ever North Korea-US summit
Orderly island offers leaders fine hotels, security – and a non-likelihood of any irritating demonstrations
US President Donald Trump has revealed the site of the first-ever summit between the leaders of North Korea and the United States: It will take place in Singapore on June 12.
Trump revealed the long-awaited information on Twitter, writing: “The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th. We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”
The announcement comes hot on the heels of the return of three US detainees, who were freed from imprisonment in Pyongyang during US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Korea this week. Pompeo has been laying the groundwork for his boss’s powwow with Kim Jong-un since his surprise trip to meet Kim over the Easter Weekend.
Kim’s goodwill move – releasing the three Korean-Americans – had been widely seen as removing the last obstacle to the high-stakes summit, during which Trump and Kim will discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
There had been widespread speculation in global media and among pundits that the event – sure to be splashed across front pages worldwide – could take place in Beijing, China; Geneva, Switzerland; Stockholm Sweden, or Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Some had even wondered whether Trump might make bold and land in Pyongyang – but the security issues such a visit would entail made the North Korean capital an outside bet.
More recently, Trump announced that Singapore was one venue under consideration. Following the successful inter-Korean summit in Panmunjom last month, he took to Twitter to ask his followers whether they thought the inter-Korean De-militarized Zone (DMZ) would be an appropriate location for his own summit with Kim.
In his Tweet, Trump did not reveal why Singapore was chosen; it hardly offers the iconic optics that Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in leveraged so powerfully at Panmunjom, the truce village inside the DMZ.
However, the Southeast Asian island state offers some compelling positives.
Singapore faces no significant regional or international security threats. Domestically, it is noted for its orderliness – suggesting that neither the polarizing American president nor the dictatorial North Korean leader will be disturbed in their suites by street protests.
Secondly, it boasts a range of best-of-breed hotels and conference facilities, offering the kind of luxury and discretion that both Trump and Kim may appreciate.
Thirdly, as it is just over six hours via air travel from Pyongyang, it should fall within range of Kim’s reputedly decrepit fleet of aircraft.
Fourthly, both North Korea and the United States have diplomatic representation in Singapore.
Moreover, a number of senior North Korean officials have visited the city state which, like North Korea, is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement – a favorite organization of state founder Kim Il-sung. Also, the highly active NGO Chosun Exchange, which runs business training programs for North Korean entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs, largely in North Korea, China and Singapore, is based in Singapore.