SINGAPORE: Singapore did not volunteer to host the Jun 12 summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but it is "proud" that the country has been chosen, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said during a visit to Washington on Tuesday (Jun 5).
"No, we did not put our hand up but we were asked. And in this case, both the North Koreans and the United States felt that we were an appropriate venue," Dr Balakrishnan said, adding that it was the Americans who approached Singapore first.
"I think Singaporeans can be proud ... that we’ve been chosen because they know that we are neutral, reliable, trustworthy and secure."
He said that Singapore is ready to host the summit and to "do our part" for world peace.
"I can say with confidence that all the preparations, logistics and security, the diplomatic arrangements, are all well in hand," he said.
Highlighting that Singapore has had diplomatic relations with North Korea for some time, while also adhering to United Nations Security Council resolutions "scrupulously", he said that a team in Singapore has been having discussions separately with both the US and North Korean teams.
"I think it is very important that we be even-handed, that we enjoy the trust and confidence of both parties. So you know, this ability to be an honest, neutral host is absolutely crucial."
He expressed hope that there will be a positive outcome, but cautioned that one meeting will not "unlock the entire situation on the Korean Peninsula".
"If you can make a positive step, it’d be significant in its own right. But if you look in the long term, surely the people in North Korea deserve to have economic development," he said.
TRADE WAR CONCERNS
Dr Balakrishnan met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton during his visit.
He told reporters that much of their discussions centred on a potential trade war that is brewing between the US and several countries.
"Singapore is a place where our trade is three times our GDP. So any disruption to world trade will be a problem for us. So I made that point as strongly as I could," he said.
The US' stance on trade was one area Singapore has different views on, he added.
"We are not in favour of unilateral measures. We certainly do not want trade wars. And this is a view we have expressed quite candidly to the Americans as well. But we’ll wait and see," he said.
Dr Balakrishnan will head to North Korea next for an official visit before the summit.