Singapore willing to pay for historic meeting, says defense minister
The world's attention has shifted to Singapore, after U.S. President Donald Trump announced his meeting with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un was back on track and city -state is making preparations for the historic summit, with hotel rooms reportedly being booked and police preparing to lock down the city.
Top hotels in Singapore rumored as possible Trump-Kim summit venues, including the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, are almost fully booked, the Global Times reporter learned on Sunday.
Shangri-La has been the first choice for Singapore for international conferences with its excellent security and experience. The annual security summit, Shangri-La Dialogue, is held in the hotel, Shawn Ho, associate research fellow at Nanyang Technological University's Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, told the Global Times.
The Global Times reporter noticed on Sunday that Shangri-La has tightened security checks on cars and people, and some nearby streets to the hotel were closed for the Shangri-La Dialogue, which was held over the weekend. Security staff and the hotel refused to say whether the security checks would spill over to June 12.
Media have not only booked rooms in hotels rumored to be Trump-Kim summit venues but also camped out at hotels where U.S. and North Korean officials are staying in Singapore for preparatory meetings, the Global Times reporter learned on Sunday.
Reporters gathered at the upscale Fullerton Hotel to get a glimpse of Kim Chang-son, a senior official at the State Affairs Commission of DPRK, who is in Singapore to lay the groundwork for the summit with the U.S. delegation.
Huge U.S. and North Korean delegations and their security detail are expected. But they are likely to pale in comparison to media set to swarm into the tropical city-state, AFP reported.
In response to whether Singapore will be shouldering the bill for the Summit, which is scheduled for June 12, Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen said that "it is a cost that we're willing to bear to play a small part in this historic meeting," Reuters reported.
The Washington Post reported earlier that some unresolved logistical issues included who would pay for the hotel bills of Kim, whose economy has been squeezed by a series of UN and unilateral sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Trump announced on Friday that the talks were back on after he received a letter from Kim, hand-carried to the White House by Kim's top envoy, Kim Yong-chol, CNN reported.
"The Korean Peninsula was stuck in a vicious circle - the U.S. maintains military pressure and imposes sanctions and DPRK proceeded with its nuclear tests. But the situation has changed and there is little chance to return to the past," Zhao Xiaozhuo, a research fellow at the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Academy of Military Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Zhao said that ties between DPRK and the U.S. may improve if the former agrees to denuclearization and the latter offers economic assistance, or their confrontations may escalate.
"Considering Trump's unpredictability, the possibility of escalating tensions can never be erased," Zhao said.
Some Singapore residents said they are concerned by the inconvenience to be caused by the sudden influx of media and diplomats, but others seemed indifferent to the event. "I know nothing about the summit. I don't care about it," Isabella Chen, a 27-year-old Singapore resident, said.