Summit shows S'pore enjoys trust of US, North Korea as neutral host

Balakrishnan says hosting summit is the Republic's contribution to world peace

Next week's US-North Korea summit shows that Singapore enjoys trust and confidence as an honest and neutral moderator and host, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivan Balakrishnan has said.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the end of a one-day working visit to Washington, where he met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Dr Balakrishnan will be in Pyongyang today at the invitation of his North Korean counterpart, Mr Ri Yong Ho.

Before leaving the US capital, Dr Balakrishnan told Singapore media that hosting the summit was "our contribution to world peace".

"I am confident we will do our best as hosts. I tell both the North Koreans and the Americans, we are there to serve tea and coffee," he quipped.

US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose official title is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission, are scheduled to meet at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa at 9am on June 12, in what is being touted as potentially one of the most significant geopolitical developments since the end of the Cold War.

"The fact that the summit is even occurring is significant in its own way," Dr Balakrishnan said.

"For the President of the United States to sit with the leader of North Korea across the table and to have all the issues laid out for them to have a frank discussion is a significant step."

He added: "Obviously, what all of us are hoping for is it would lead to a de-escalation of tension, raise the prospects of peace and, for the sake of the North Koreans themselves, improve the prospects for economic development.

"For North Korea, they only need to look at China and at South-east Asia to see that peace is an essential pre-requisite for prosperity, so let us hope for the best but not have undue expectations.

"I don't think one meeting next week in Singapore can certainly unlock the entire situation on the Korean peninsula (but) if you can make a positive step it will be significant in its own right," he added.

Dr Balakrishnan also disclosed that it was the US that approached Singapore first, followed by North Korea, to host the summit.

The first pre-requisite for both sides was security, followed by the availability of a venue and a setting that would send the appropriate signal.

"We have been able to have good discussions separately with both; I think it is very important that we enjoy the trust and confidence of both parties, this ability to be an honest neutral moderator and host was absolutely crucial," he said.

Mr Pompeo and Mr Bolton thanked Singapore and Singaporeans, Dr Balakrishnan said.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted: "We thank our great Singaporean hosts for their hospitality."

Dr Balakrishnan's talks with US officials went beyond the upcoming summit to cover US-Singapore relations as well as trade issues.


Former NBA star Dennis Rodman could be in Singapore for summit

National Basketball Association star-turned-Kim Jong Un soulmate Dennis Rodman will be in Singapore next week, the New York Post reported on Tuesday.

Rodman, a flamboyant personality who is known for his tattoos, body piercings and multicoloured hair, has struck up an unlikely bromance with Mr Kim, an avid sports fan and basketball lover.

He will arrive in Singapore a day before the June 12 sit-down, the report said.

It cited sources as saying Rodman, nicknamed The Worm, could even play some sort of role in the negotiations.

"No matter what you might think about his presence. One thing is for sure - the ratings will be huge," a source was quoted as saying.

"A lot of times in situations that involve complex diplomacy, countries like to identify ambassadors of goodwill, and whether you agree with it or not, Dennis Rodman fits the bill."

Mr Darren Prince, Rodman's representative, said no trip to Singapore had been confirmed but that the 57-year-old would be willing to go if his expertise were needed.

Rodman has taken some of the credit for getting the two leaders together.

In an April interview, Rodman said Mr Kim did not understand the American leader until he gave the North Korean a copy of Mr Trump's book The Art Of The Deal for his birthday last year.

"I think (Kim) didn't realise who Donald Trump was at that time, I guess, until he started to read the book and started to get to understand him. Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are pretty much the same," Mr Rodman told the TMZ website.

He visited North Korea in 2013 to host some basketball exhibitions. There, he met Mr Kim, who is a basketball fan, and the pair struck up an unlikely friendship.

Last August, Rodman, who was a contestant on Mr Trump's reality television show Celebrity Apprentice, said the exchange of fiery rhetoric between Mr Trump and Mr Kim and brinkmanship filled with nuclear threats was "more like two big kids deciding who's the toughest". - THE STRAITS TIMES

Heightened security around Tanglin, Sentosa ahead of Trump-Kim Summit

Expect heightened security measures around Tanglin, Newton, Orchard and Sentosa next week.

Checks and screenings will be conducted on people, vehicles and vessels around these areas because of the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un here, the police said.

The summit has been declared an Enhanced Security Special Event from June 10 to June 14 under the Public Order Act.

This means it will be an offence to bring prohibited items like flammable and explosive material, flags and banners larger than 1m by 1m, loudhailers and aerosol paint cans into these areas.

Flying drones is also prohibited and strict enforcement action will be taken, the police said in a press release.

Home Team agencies, Singapore Armed Forces and auxiliary police forces will be deployed during the summit period, the director of operations, Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police How Kwang Hwee, told a press conference yesterday.

"We seek the support and cooperation of the public because these security measures are necessary to ensure the security of the summit and Singapore," he said.

"Members of the public can play an important role and partner the police by being vigilant and report any suspicious activities to the police immediately."- KOK YUFENG