INTERNATIONAL.- With the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula out of contention, the small nation of Singapore is a natural choice for the historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, analysts say. Among the factors are its proximity to North Korea, the experience of its security forces, and the fact that Pyongyang has had diplomatic relations with the country since 1975.
Trump announced in a tweet Thursday that the two leaders will meet in Singapore on June 12. 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.
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But he wouldn’t be on home turf,” Plant said. Singapore is familiar ground for the reclusive communist country, which has its embassy in Singapore’s central business district. Single-party rule since Singapore gained independence in 1965 has ensured stability and fostered a security state that is among the world’s most efficient, although sometimes it is 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. Singapore also is 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.