North Korea

Trump Says He Will Meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June

Singapore is familiar ground for North Korea, and the two countries have had diplomatic relations since 1975

What to Know

  • President Donald Trump says he will meet North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12
  • The historic meeting will be the first between a sitting American president and the leader of North Korea over denuclearization
  • The announcement comes hours after three Americans returned to the U.S. from North Korea, where they had been detained

President Donald Trump has revealed the time and place for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it will take place in Singapore on June 12.

"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 president tweeted Thursday morning.

Trump is providing details for the first time about the history-making meeting between a sitting American president and the leader of North Korea over denuclearization. The last summit between the two nations came at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Trump had said he favored holding the meeting at the Demilitarized Zone, the heavily fortified border separating the Koreas. But the island nation of Singapore was favored by most of his advisers.

The announcement comes hours after three Americans returned to the U.S. from North Korea, where they had been detained.  

Trump welcomed the men, who were accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the early morning hours Thursday and thanked Kim for releasing them. He said he does believe Kim wants to reach an agreement on denuclearization at their upcoming summit and that "the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons." 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., congratulated the president on "this significant step" toward the historic summit. While he noted that he shares Pompeo's expressed goal of "the permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction program," McConnell added that "if it proves unachievable through these talks, I support a continuation of the policy of maximum pressure on the regime."

Singapore is a natural choice for Trump and Kim's meeting. It's familiar ground for North Korea, and the two countries have had diplomatic relations since 1975. The reclusive communist country has its embassy in Singapore's central business district.

The city is "a great location" for the summit, said Tom Plant, who specializes 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," Plant said.

Singapore's security forces have considerable experience in protecting VIPs. Single-party rule since independence in 1965 has ensured stability and fostered a security state that is among the world's most efficient, though sometimes decried by civil libertarians as repressive. Located between two Muslim majority nations — Malaysia and Indonesia — with Islamic State group sympathizers, it has effectively checked terrorist threats.

North Korea's state companies have, in the past, conducted legal and illegal business dealings with Singapore companies. The city-state, under pressure from the U.S. and a leaked U.N. report, officially cut off trade relations with North Korea in 2017 to abide by international sanctions.

"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.

Distance may also be a consideration. Singapore is located just over 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) from North Korea, comfortably within the flying range of its aircraft. Getting to Western Europe would require a stop or two to refuel.

"Singapore is neither too far away as European nations are, allowing Kim Jong Un's private jet to make it here without refueling, nor too close that Trump might be seen as 'giving way' to Kim by having to travel a longer distance than the latter," said Nah Liang Tuang, a research fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies.

Singapore is also welcome ground for the United States. It is a large trading partner, the second-largest Asian investor, and a longtime supporter of its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

The country is also the regional headquarters of large U.S. companies including Google, Facebook and Airbnb. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1966.

It is a regional hub whose free enterprise philosophy welcomes trading partners from everywhere, regardless of politics.

"Singapore is an ideal site for the summit because Singapore historically has been an honest broker between East and West. Singapore has been a great friend to the U.S. but also Singapore has carefully worked to be a friend to all, which has earned it trust in capitals around the world," former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman said.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country is pleased to host the summit. "We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula," it said in a statement.

Singapore has experience hosting such meetings. In 2015 it was the site of another unprecedented summit between two leaders burdened with a legacy of bad blood and mutual distrust, Chinese President Xi Jinping and rival Taiwan's then-President Ma Ying-jeou, the first such meeting since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The city-state has hosted a number of high-level regional meetings, including Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits in 2007 and 2018. Since 2002, an annual security conference has been held there, featuring defense chiefs and officials from countries including the U.S., China and South Korea.

Roadblocks are set up around the summit venues, where armed Nepalese Gurkhas stand guard. Police check every vehicle that enters the area.

In 2015, Gurkha officers fired at a car that breached four roadblocks and crashed into a concrete barrier. The driver was killed and two passengers arrested in what turned out to be a drug-related misadventure rather than an attack.

Valued foreign guests won't be troubled by protesters, either. Demonstrations in Singapore can only be held in a designated area, the 2.4-acre (0.9-hectare) Hong Lim Park.

Amnesty International says amendments to the country's Public Order Act have given authorities more power to restrict public assembly, and participants in peaceful protests have been arrested.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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