(WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE SUMMIT)

A design for one of three medallions unveiled by the Singapore Mint commemorating U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s meeting in Singapore is shown in this handout image supplied by the Singapore Mint on June 5, 2018. The Singapore Mint/Handout via REUTERS

By Bartholomew Madukwe with Agency report

Following certainty that the meeting between U.S. and North Korean leaders (Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un) would hold on June 12, Singapore has launched a commemorative ‘World Peace’ medallion.

Singapore, a small Southeast Asian nation with good ties to countries both East and West, tends towards neutrality, projecting itself as the region’s answer to Switzerland.

In 2015, Singapore hosted a historic meeting of the leaders of Taiwan and China, the first since victory in a civil war for the Communists in 1949 confined their Nationalist foes to the island.
Unveiling the medallion on Tuesday, the inscription ‘World Peace’ was written in large letters on one side, reports Channelsnewsasia.

It was gathered that the words on the medallion featured on the online shop of the Singapore Mint and are accompanied by a dove, olive branch motif, a biblical symbol of peace, a rose and a magnolia, the national flowers of the two countries (U.S. and North Korea).

The other side of the souvenir, which costs more than $1,000 for the version in gold, depicts two hands clasped in handshake in front of both nations’ flags and the June 12 event date.

The meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un will be the first ever between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. After a war of words that lasted months, it aims to start a discussion on ending the North’s nuclear weapons program in return for diplomatic and economic incentives.

This was as South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, said Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the standoff.

WHITE HOUSE COMMEMORATIVE COINS FOR SUMMIT

Last month, the White House also unveiled commemorative coins for the summit, making for an awkward juxtaposition when Trump canceled the event on May 24, citing Pyongyang’s “open hostility”, although he subsequently revived the talks.

VENUE FOR US-NORTH KOREA SUMMIT

Although venue for the US-North Korea summit is highly skeptical, the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders, on Monday (June 4) said that a first meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place at 9am (0100 GMT) in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

“We are actively preparing for the June 12th summit between the president and the North Korean leader,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in announcing the timing of the meeting.

“We feel like things are continuing to move forward, and good progress has been made. The White House advance team, which features military, security, technical and medical staff, were already on the ground in the Southeast Asian state. They are finalising preparations and will remain in place until the summit begins,” Sanders stated.

According to her, Trump is getting daily briefings on North Korea in the run-up to the landmark meeting. The White House confirmed the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un on March 8, 2018.

SOUTH KOREA CHOICE FOR SUMMIT VENUE

Meanwhile, CNN reported on May 9 that Singapore will be hosting the meeting on June 12. Trump confirmed the location on May 10 and announced that the summit is set for June 12.

At 4,700 km from Pyongyang’s Sunan airport, Singapore is easily within the range of Kim’s Soviet-made Il-62M aircraft. Local media reported that the most likely choice of venue would be the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore near Orchard Road, known for hosting the annual Shangri-La Dialogue and the 2015 Ma–Xi meeting.

A South Korean report also cited The Istana, the official residence of the President of Singapore, as a possible venue to host the summit.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserted that, “Singapore is pleased to host the meeting between President of the United States Donald J. Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea State Affairs Commission Chairman Kim Jong-un on 12 June 2018. We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula”.

CONTROVERSIES ABOUT THE SUMMIT

Kim referenced preparations for the meeting in remarks to the Politburo of the Workers’ Party of Korea on April 9. North Korea cut off talks with South Korea on May 15, 2018, and threatened to cancel planned North Korea–U.S. summit, citing military exercises between the United States and South Korea.

Nine days later, the U.S. officially backed out of the summit. However, the following day, President Trump reversed course and left open the possibility of the June 12 Singapore summit with North Korea happening anyway, in response to a message from North Korea which Trump found surprisingly friendly.

On June 1, President Trump announced that the meeting would go ahead as planned on June 12, and acknowledged that denuclearization would be a long and difficult process.
Korea has been divided since 1945. The Korean War of 1950–1953 ended with an armistice agreement but not a peace settlement. A sporadic conflict has continued, with American troops remaining in the South.

Since the 1990s, international concern has grown about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. President George W. Bushreferred to North Korea as part of an “axis of evil” during his 2002 State of the Union address, but towards the end of his administration, North Korea voluntarily gave information on its nuclear program in exchange for sanction relief, and they were soon after taken off the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.

Despite this, nuclear inspectors were barred from surveying any North Korean weapons facilities towards the end of 2008. The Obama administration had a policy of “strategic patience” toward negotiations with the North. More nuclear tests were conducted in the succeeding years, and the 2010 bombardment of Yeonpyeong markedly raised tensions between North Korea and South Korea.

The escalation of North Korea’s nuclear program advanced particularly under the rule of Kim Jong-un who became the leader in December 2011, after his father passed away.

Donald Trump was elected US President in 2016 with a position of opposition to Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea. While advocating a tough stance, he also expressed openness to dialogue, saying he would be prepared to “eat a hamburger” with Chairman Kim Jong-un.

In 2017, Moon Jae-in was elected President of South Korea with a promise to return to the Sunshine Policy of friendly relations with the North. Throughout the year, North Korea successfully conducted tests of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), named Hwasong-14.

In response to heightened North Korean rhetoric, President Trump warned that any North Korean attack “will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which the world has never seen before”. In response, North Korea announced that it was considering a missile test in which the missiles would land near the US territory of Guam.

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, of a hydrogen bomb, on September 3. The test was met with international condemnation and resulted in further economic sanctions being taken against North Korea.

On November 28, North Korea launched another missile, which, according to analysts, would be capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.The test resulted in the United Nations placing further sanctions on the country. The United States also added North Korea back to its State Sponsors of Terrorism list after nine years.

In his New Year address for 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un proposed sending a delegation to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. In January a false missile alert in January alarmed Hawaii. The Seoul–Pyongyang hotline was reopened after almost two years North and South Korea marched together in the Olympics opening ceremony and fielded a united women’s ice hockey team.

As well as the athletes, North Korea sent an unprecedented high-level delegation, headed by Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un, and President Kim Yong-nam, and including performers like the Samjiyon Orchestra.The delegation passed on an invitation to President Moon to visit North Korea.

SINGAPORE DEFENCE MINISTER WELCOMES TRUMP’S RENEWED COMMITMENT TO SUMMIT

Following Trump’s renewed commitment to the summit on June 1, Singaporean Defence Minister, Ng Eng Hen, welcomed the move and stated that Singapore would cover some of the costs of the summit.

Members of the American and North Korean delegations that had been meeting in Singapore in prior weeks were believed to have been staying in the Capella Hotel on Sentosa, and the Fullerton Hotel Singapore in the city’s Downtown Corerespectively, both of which are additional venue options for the summit.

PROPOSED VENUES FOR SUMMIT

Trump administration sources said on April 28 that the meeting would be held in either Singapore or Mongolia. On April 30, Trump remarked on a possibility the Peace House and inter-Korean House of Freedom (Joint Security Area) in Panmunjom would serve as venues.

Trump believes that Panmunjom in DMZ would be the reasonable location for the historical meeting to remove nuclear weapons and to sign the preparatory peace treaty on Korean peninsula.

The inter-Korean Peace House was where the 2018 inter-Korean summitwas held earlier in April. Singapore was the site of a recent China–Taiwan summit.

Mongolia has sponsored a number of talks in recent years involving regional and international players, and is accessible by train from North Korea.
On April 30, Trump confirmed that Singapore, the Peace House and the inter-Korean House of Freedom were under consideration.

American officials said the most likely mutually-agreed-upon choice of venue would be in Southeast Asia or Europe, especially from among the choices of Singapore, Vietnam (Communist country recognized by the U.S. since 1995), Thailand, Switzerland (where Kim and his two siblings had some schooling or Sweden (whose embassy acts as intermediary for Americans traveling in North Korea).

Another possible location of the summit would be Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Additionally proposed venues included Pyongyang, North Korea (favored by Kim); the Inter-Korean Peace House in Panmunjom near the boundary of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea (site for the April 27, 2018 inter-Korean summit; a site possibly favored by Kim for the summit with the U.S. as well); the Russian port city of Vladivostok (accessible to Kim by land or sea and nearby Vyatskoye, Kim’s predecessor and father Kim Jong-il’s February 16, 1941 birthplace, a Chinese city such as Shenyang, Changchun, or Beijing (favored by China); Seoul or South Korea’s Jeju Island or aboard a U.S. ship in international waters.