The United States and North Korea summit is an opportunity not just for a breakthrough on the Korean Peninsula, but also for Singapore to showcase its capabilities to the world, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.
While there would be inconveniences to Singaporeans, he said he knew from feedback that Singaporeans were proud that the country was trusted to host the event. He said he was sure that Singaporeans "will put forward our best face to the world".
Dr Balakrishnan, who spoke to Singapore media yesterday in Beijing en route to Singapore after a five-day trip to Washington and Pyongyang, said some have called the summit an "incredible branding opportunity" for the Republic. He said: "This is also an opportunity when there is enormous global attention on Singapore as the host, and on Singaporeans and our capabilities, for us to make a difference."
Some 2,500 journalists are expected to be in Singapore to cover the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who is Chairman of the State Affairs Commission.
Dr Balakrishnan said the summit was one of Singapore's "most significant security operations" and goes beyond just serving coffee and tea.
"This is our contribution to world peace and also our opportunity to show an aspect of Singapore that we sometimes take for granted - our security, efficiency, unity of purpose, ability to get things done, to plan in detail and also to react to contingencies and changes in plan," he added.
Singapore has hosted historic summits before, including in 2015 when Chinese President Xi Jinping met then Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou.
The upcoming meeting is an affirmation of Singapore's neutrality, and its 53-year pursuit of an "independent, principled, fair and honest diplomacy", said Dr Balakrishnan. Singapore has diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the US. Dr Balakrishnan said the fact that both sides asked Singapore to host the meeting reflects its track record, open communication with both sides, discreetness and trustworthiness, and was an "enormous affirmation" of Singapore's value.
"Sometimes people ask us why we are so principled, why so consistent, why we sometimes refuse to bend with the seasonal wind. This is the point - people know we won't be bought, intimidated, will maintain a steady principled course. We don't play games, we don't engage in polemics," he said.
Dr Balakrishnan was also asked about the costs of hosting the summit. He said he did not have specific figures, but added that while Singapore was extending hospitality to the North Koreans, as it would for any state visit, they would have to pay some of their own costs. But he added that every dollar will be spent appropriately.