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    In this Friday, Sept. 12, 2014 photo, a pin of late North Korea leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and North Korea's flag are displayed on a North Korean reporter's jacket at the Main Media Center for the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, west of Seoul, South Korea

    Expert Explains Why North Korea-US Summit to Take Place in Singapore

    © AFP 2018 / Lee Jin-man
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    Last week it became known that one of the most anticipated and breakthrough international events – the meeting of the leaders of the United States and the DPRK – will take place on June 12 in Singapore. US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce the date and place of the meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

    Chinese expert Ren Yuanzhe from the Diplomatic Academy of the People's Republic of China told Sputnik why the choice of the venue for such a major meeting was no coincidence.

    “The choice of Singapore for the North Korea-US summit on the one hand is unexpected, on the other hand, there is nothing surprising about it. Singapore was among one of the possible places for negotiations, although many previously assumed that the probability of holding them in the demilitarized zone is higher. Comparing with the other four options, Singapore has the following advantages. Firstly, it is a developed country with good infrastructure, a high level of social security and public order; the country also has extensive experience in organizing various international events. Holding a summit for the US and North Korean leaders in Singapore is a good choice, at least from the point of view of logistic support, it is quite capable of providing excellent working conditions for the participants. For comparison, the infrastructure in the demilitarized zone is outdated. Secondly, Singapore maintains a neutral foreign policy, the country held many important negotiations and meetings. Usually, large-scale summits require embassy support and Singapore and North Korea have diplomatic relations, the DPRK embassy in Singapore is one of 47 embassies North Korea has around the world. At the same time, Singapore is one of the closest partners of the United States in the Pacific. Therefore, the special status of Singapore also became an important factor in choosing it as the venue.”

    The North Korean leader is known not to travel far from Pyongyang, so Ren Yuanzhe believes the third reason is the geographical advantages of Singapore.

    “Singapore is located in less than five thousand kilometers from Pyongyang, so the North Korean leader's plane will have a direct flight to the summit. The takeoff and landing of the American Air Force One will also be convenient. This is the absolute advantage of Singapore in comparison with such European countries as Switzerland and Sweden.”

    Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that his country is honoured to host the historic meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, while Ren Yuanzhe told Sputnik that it's a great chance for the small nation to play a big role: “Of course, Singapore cannot miss such a unique opportunity to improve its position in the world ranking. Hosting such a major event in the country is very important for displaying Singapore's international status and the manifestation of the concept of a 'small country with a great diplomatic role,' therefore, Singapore is also happy to hold an event that will attract the attention of the whole world.”

    China considers the forthcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and the leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un an important step on the way to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and achieving stability in the region, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuan said at a briefing on Friday.

    Ren Yuanzhe believes that the denuclearization issue will be the focus of the planned meeting, noting that he is optimistic about the outcome of the talks.

    “The problem of denuclearization is definitely in the spotlight. The agreement that North Korea and the US can reach on the issue of denuclearization will directly affect the situation on the peninsula, the peace and development of Northeast Asia. On the issue of denuclearization there have always been inconsistencies between the DPRK's approach to this issue and the concept of the international community and the United States. According to North Korea, denuclearization should be implemented gradually, step by step, one decision after another. The DPRK will voluntarily take the necessary measures, at the same time, the international community, including the United States, must provide certain economic assistance, and ease sanctions.”

    Despite Pyongyang's willingness to cooperate on the matter Yuanzhe notes that disagreements remain.

    “Trump's administration hopes that the denuclearization issue will be closed once and for all and it's best to solve this problem during Trump's presidency. Therefore, from this point of view, the two sides still have some differences (in approach). In my opinion, denuclearization is a very complex problem that can not be solved quickly. Since North Korea has now agreed to denuclearization, the international community, including the United States, should seize the opportunity to facilitate this process. However, it is very difficult for the DPRK to compromise and solve the nuclear problem in the short term. In addition, the summit will also touch upon the issue of establishing diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea, the adjustment of the mechanism for peaceful development of the peninsula, the economic development of North Korea and its openness. However, the issue of denuclearization will continue to be key and determine the outcome of the summit.”

    The Chinese Global Times reported that the choice of Singapore as the venue for negotiations is the result of Trump's “persistence and perseverance.” The American side did not consider one of China's cities or the demilitarized zone on the border of North and South Korea, for the venue, perhaps, in order not to affect the image of the US president. According to the report, Beijing's influence is too great that if a meeting were to take place in Beijing the public's attention would be divided. As for the demilitarized zone where the leaders of South and North Korea met, the meeting there could repeat the scenario and give similar impressions to the talks between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in. Singapore will be the most distant place from the DPRK (with the exception of Moscow) since the end of the Cold War, that the North Korean leader is set to visit. Kim Jong-un's consent to a meeting with Trump in Singapore requires courage and confidence. This step by Kim Jong-un can be regarded as a manifestation of readiness to accept and respect the principles of international law, the authors of the Global Times report concluded.

    Related:

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    denuclearization, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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