Singapore’s ties make it summit site

Singapore’s diplomatic ties to North Korea helped make it the site for the Trump-Kim summit.Singapore’s diplomatic ties with North Korea and its relative proximity made the Southeast Asian city-state a natural choice for the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Trump announced in a tweet on Thursday the two leaders will meet in Singapore on June 12.

The city is “a great location” for the summit, said Tom Plant, who specialises in nuclear and proliferation issues at London’s Royal United Services Institute.

“Kim will be on friendly territory, not hostile territory. But he wouldn’t be on home turf.”

Among the factors: It’s closer for Kim than possible Europe venues, the experience of Singapore’s security forces, and the fact that Pyongyang has had diplomatic relations with the country since 1975.

Singapore is familiar ground for the reclusive communist country, which has its embassy in Singapore’s central business district.

Single-party rule since Singapore gained independence in 1965 has ensured stability and fostered a security state that is among the world’s most efficient.

It’s a perfect venue for top security meetings – protests are not allowed without permission, movement is strictly controlled and media are kept under control.

North Korea’s state companies have, in the past, conducted legal and illegal business dealings with Singaporean companies. The city state, under pressure from the US and a leaked UN report, officially cut off trade relations with North Korea in 2017 to abide by sanctions.

Singapore is also welcome ground for the US.

It is a large trading partner, the second-largest Asian investor, and a longtime supporter of its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

It’s also the regional headquarters of large US companies including Google, Facebook and Airbnb. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1966.

“The North Korean side will likely have a very large number of logistical and protocol issues it wants addressed by the summit venue, so having a (North Korean) embassy in the country where the summit is to be held is likely a requirement,” said Malcolm Cook, a senior fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore.

Former US Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman said Singapore was ideal because it has been “an honest broker between East and West.”

“Singapore has been a great friend to the US but also Singapore has carefully worked to be a friend to all, which has earned it trust in capitals around the world,” he said.

“We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

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