Ties with US, North Korea Make Singapore a Good Meeting Place


11 May, 2018

American President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have agreed to meet in Singapore on June 12.

Singapore's position in Asia, and diplomatic ties with the U.S. and North Korea, make it a natural choice for the historic meeting.

Trump announced the meeting in a tweet Thursday.

A news vendor counts her money near a stack of newspapers with a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un on its front page on Friday, May 11, 2018, in Singapore.
A news vendor counts her money near a stack of newspapers with a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump, right, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un on its front page on Friday, May 11, 2018, in Singapore.

Singapore is one of the few countries that have diplomatic relations with both North Korea and the United States. It is also considered a neutral place.

About Singapore

The city-state of less than 6 million people is between Malaysia and Indonesia. The country has 700 square kilometers of land. That is about three and one half times the size of Washington, DC.

Britain founded Singapore as a trading colony in 1819. It joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963, but became independent two years later.

The country maintains strong international trading ties. It is a port city, between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, on one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Singapore is also a wealthy country, with incomes similar to those of leading European nations.

The country has been ruled by one party since gaining independence in 1965. Protests cannot take place without permission. Movement is limited and there are controls on media.

Why Singapore?

Tom Plant is an expert on nuclear issues at London's Royal United Services Institute. He said Singapore is "a great location" for the meeting.

Plant told the Associated Press that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "will be on friendly territory, not hostile territory. But he wouldn't be on home turf."

North Korea's state companies have, in the past, traded with Singaporean companies. Under pressure from the United States, Singapore officially stopped trade relations with North Korea in 2017.

U.S. ties to Singapore are strong.

The port city has long provided services to visiting U.S. Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific area. It is also the regional headquarters of large American companies including Google, Facebook and Airbnb.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman said Singapore is the perfect location for the meeting. He said, "Singapore has been a great friend to the U.S. But also Singapore has carefully worked to be a friend to all, which has earned it trust in capitals around the world."

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, "We hope this meeting will advance prospects for peace in the Korean Peninsula."

In 2015, Singapore was the site of another historic meeting, between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan's then-President Ma Ying-jeou. It was the first such meeting since the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Hai Do adapted this AP story for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

neutral –adj. not supporting either side

location –n. place

turf –n. an area or place that feels like your home

advance –v. to move forward

prospects –n. possibilities or opportunities