- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 20, 2018

Everything about the summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a tough negotiation.

Once the island nation of Singapore was selected to host the historic meeting about denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, the two sides had to broker a deal on a satisfactory venue — down to the room where Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim will meet face-to-face.

Those discussions continue despite North Korea’s threats last week to back out altogether.

“We are continuing to negotiate in terms of location where to meet, how to meet, rooms, everything else, and they’ve been negotiating like nothing happened,” Mr. Trump said last week.

The most obvious choice of venue is the Shangri-La, a swanky hotel in the city’s posh Orchard Road shopping district. The hotel was the setting for previous high-profile meetings, although nothing as monumental as the Trump-Kim summit.

The hotel was the backdrop for the landmark talks in 2015 between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s then-president, Ma Ying-jeou. It also hosts the annual Asia-Pacific security conference that has brought leaders from 28 countries to Singapore since 2002.

“Shangri-La Hotel has the edge,” Singapore Management University professor Eugene Tan, an expert of Singapore politics, told The Washington Times. “It is a premium hotel which is relatively easy to lock-down given it’s relatively secluded location.”

An added benefit for the city would be the minimal disruption to normal business activity, he said.

Other sites often mentioned as potential venues are a sprawling convention center named Suntec City, Marina Bay Sands casino resort hotel and Pulau Tekong, an island off mainland Singapore that is used for military training.

Suntec City and Pulau Tekong both present logistics problems, said Mr. Tan.

The convention center is immense and riddled with entryways that would be a security nightmare. It is also a setting that Mr. Tan described as “clinical” and not conducive to forging a personal connection that could be key to negotiations between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim.

Proponents of the Pulau Tekong location say the island provides a secluded setting and can be easily locked down.

The South China Morning Post mused that Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim “would have lots of quiet and rustic space for long walks” on Pulau Tekong. The rows of barracks on the island also could be converted into rooms for talks and housing for the throngs of journalists.

However, most would have to reach the island by ferry, which could be a logistical headache. The military camp setting also could be a turn-off.

Marina Bay Sands is considered a top contender, but holding the high-stakes talks in a gambling venue might be bad public relations. Diplomatically, the location could be viewed as favoring Mr. Trump because the casino resort is owned by Las Vegas tycoon Sheldon Adelson, a Republican megadonor and Trump supporter.

Whichever exact site is chosen, said Mr. Tan, the Singapore setting is bound to make an impression on Mr. Kim, who rarely leaves the Hermit Kingdom.

Singapore’s style of government might be an eye-opener for Mr. Kim,” he said. “It’s a system that is relatively open to the world for trade, investments, people and ideas while having a communitarian, no-nonsense democratic system.”


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