PM Lee says Singapore honoured to host Trump-Kim summit, invites US leader for state visit in November

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and US President Donald Trump during a joint press conference at the White House, on Oct 23, 2017. PM Lee has invited President Trump to visit Singapore in November. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told President Donald Trump on Friday (May 11) that Singapore is honoured to host a historic meeting between the US leader and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.

Mr Lee, in a phone call with Mr Trump, also invited him to make a state visit to Singapore in November, in conjunction with the Asean-US summit and the East Asia summit. Mr Trump said he would try his best to do so.

Mr Lee said the June 12 meeting would be "a historic and momentous event", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement on Friday night.

"Singapore is honoured to host it and will do our best to facilitate a smooth and successful meeting," said Mr Lee.

This would be an important first step in the long process of securing lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, the statement added.

In response, Mr Trump thanked PM Lee for hosting the summit. He said there had been "significant progress on this matter just in the last few months" and hoped that the summit would contribute to resolving the long-outstanding issue.

Rumours had swirled that the two leaders were picking Singapore as the location for the occasion, but Mr Trump confirmed it only on Thursday night.

Experts said "neutrality" was the keyword behind the venue choice, as it could offer a comfortable environment for the summit without both leaders stepping on each other's "home turf".

"Singapore is the best alternative option for both nations because it has maintained close diplomatic ties to the US and has also established relations with North Korea with a North Korean embassy on its soil," Dr Shin Beom Chul, a senior fellow at the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, said.

The event will be the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

They are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons development and testing programme, which has deepened long-seated tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Experts flagged three possible locations in Singapore for the summit: The Shangri-La Hotel, Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa.

Shangri-La Hotel, which hosts the annual high-level Shangri-La security dialogue is said to be the top contender with its know-how in terms of logistics and security.

MBS is owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp, whose chairman and chief executive is Mr Sheldon Adelson, one of Mr Trump's major donors.

Sentosa could be an option for its relative privacy and seclusion, but hotels there may not be able to host large entourages.

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