Singapore, a luxurious south-east Asian city-state filled with skyscrapers and 5-star hotels, is set to hold a historic diplomatic event on June 12, and preparations are already underway to welcome the U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un for the first summit between the two countries in over a decade.
A Highly-Anticipated Media Spectacle
Singapore has hosted a number of big events over the past 10 years but nothing quite matches up to the upcoming meeting between two of the most famous men in politics: tough-talking Donald Trump and brash young Kim Jong Un who have been threatening each other with their nuclear prowess for the past several months.
The purpose of the summit? Trump wants to ensure that North Korea gets rid of its dangerous nukes and Kim wants the United States to end the sanctions on his country. If the diplomatic talks don’t go as smoothly as expected, it could heighten the risk of military conflict between the South and North Korea, and the fear could lead to an arms race in East Asia.
No matter what the outcome, the summit will undoubtedly be the most highly-anticipated media spectacle of 2018. On Thursday, Trump announced on his official twitter account that he and Kim Jong Un will be holding the meeting in Singapore on June 12. The president added in his tweet that the summit will mark the first meeting between a sitting president of the United States and a North Korean leader in the history and could be a monumental moment in world peace.
The meeting has been in the works since March when Kim sent out his first official invitation for peace talks to Trump, and since then, the U.S. officials have considered a number of locations to host the summit, including the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea as well as Mongolia, but eventually decided on using Singapore as the venue.
Members of Trump administration have put their heads together for the past few months to determine the perfect location for the summit, which could largely affect the way the meeting is viewed by the international community. Singapore was the initial choice among Trump’s closest advisors including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo due to the city-state’s political neutrality.
Other countries like Russia and China were ruled out due to their highly communist culture. Logistics also played a role in the decision because after Kim announced his trip to China this week, White House officials assumed that flying to Singapore – which is some three thousand miles from Pyongyang – wouldn’t be a problem for him.
Singapore ‘Pleased to Host the Summit’
Last week, Trump announced that the time for the historic summit were already finalized, but the venue wasn’t set until Mike Pompeo met with North Korean officials to discuss the possible locations where Trump and Kim could meet. At first, the U.S. and South Korean officials urged to hold the talks in the Demilitarized Zone, which was also Trump’s first choice.
The President sent out a tweet to his social media followers asking for their opinion on where the talks should be held. He said that a number of countries were being considered by his advisors but could a third-party country have the same significance on the meeting as the iconic Peace House in the demilitarized zone? The tweet came as a surprise to Trump’s Aides who had already internally agreed on ruling out the Peace House from the list of possible venues.
Kelly and Pompeo argued that Trump’s trip to the Demilitarized Zone could send North Koreans a wrong signal that the United States was trying to conciliate Kim Jong Un. The summit needed to be set in a geographically and politically neutral environment which could also provide a celebratory atmosphere in case the talks are successful – and no location fulfills the criteria better than Singapore. The foreign ministry of the host country released a statement saying that it is honored to be a part of such a significant step towards world peace and is ‘pleased to host the summit’.