It is confirmed: Singapore will host the upcoming summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12.
Mr Trump announced this in a tweet last night, ending weeks of speculation over the location for the first meeting between leaders of both countries.
"The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12. We will both try to make it a very special moment for world peace!" he wrote.
Singapore said it is pleased to host the meeting between the two leaders. "We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the the Korean peninsula," Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
Mr Trump's announcement confirmed weeks of rumours that the Republic had emerged as a firm location for the upcoming summit.
Singapore, touted for its neutrality, high degree of public order and track record in hosting high-level meetings, was among a list of venues floated for the summit.
Mr Will Saetren, research associate at the Institute for China-America Studies, said: "The DMZ already had a historic summit. The optics a second time round would not have been so punchy. And President Trump going there would play into North Korea's propaganda machine - that the American President is coming to us. Singapore is a logical choice."
In recent weeks, the shortlist was whittled down to Singapore and the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean peninsula. But on Wednesday, Mr Trump told reporters the summit would not be held in the DMZ. Without saying why, he said an announcement would be made in three days.
Visiting US 7th Fleet commander, Vice-Admiral Phillip Sawyer, told local media yesterday that "the region and the world is cautiously optimistic and hopeful of what will come out of this (the meeting)".
With Singapore being named as the venue for the meeting, experts The Straits Times spoke to weighed in on the merits of three possible locations in the Republic.
A hospitality and events consultant, who did not wish to be named, said Shangri-La Hotel, which hosts the annual high-level Shangri-La security dialogue, is the top contender.
"Logistically and security-wise, Shangri-La knows the drill... especially since it also hosts the Shangri-La Dialogue."
Mr Toby Koh, group managing director of Ademco Security Group, noted that the security preparations in place for the dialogue taking place early next month makes it the ideal location, as there is no need "to replan and redeploy the security assets".
MARINA BAY SANDS
MBS has been flagged as a possible venue for the summit, given that one of Mr Trump's major donors, Mr Sheldon Adelson, is chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp, which owns the Singapore integrated resort.
The US President is known to take pride in being loyal to his supporters, and a high-profile meeting at MBS would give it priceless international publicity.
Mr Koh, however, does not think it is a suitable venue, as MBS is too close to the busy city centre, and traffic in the area might mean that getting to and from the venue would be a hassle for officials and others attending the meeting.
The facility's sprawling area also makes it very challenging for security personnel, he added.
The island, with its relaxing surroundings, could be an attractive option, said experts.
From the security perspective, there are also suitable sites on the island which are secluded and private, said Mr Koh.
But hotels on Sentosa may not be able to host large entourages, said the hospitality consultant.
• Additional reporting by Nirmal Ghosh in the US, Aw Cheng Wei, Kimberley Chia and Lee Wen-Yi
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