US President Donald Trump will be meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a historic summit on June 12th, 2018. It will be held at the Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa. President Trump has softened his stance against denuclearization ahead of the meeting.
The relationship between the US and North Korea has always been fractious. During the war between North and South Korea in 1950, US forces successfully intervened on behalf of South Korea. To this day, there are 28,500 American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in South Korea as part of United States Forces Korea (USFK). Read more on the history of the peninsula here.
The North Korean nuclear program has been a source of concern for the US and the international community for decades. North Korea has remained an isolated nation and its nuclear program has especially been a concern for the international community. In 2017, North Korea launched 23 missiles over the course of 16 tests. In November, North Korea tested its most potent missile yet. The Hwasong-15 missile reached an unprecedented height of almost 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles).
US President Trump has taken an aggressive stance while countering North Korea. Both Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump were locked in an extended war of words in 2017. Trump said that North Korea “will be met with fire and the fury like the world has never seen.” North Korea responded by announcing that plans were underway for it to strike Guam, a US territory.
However, since the beginning of 2018, global tensions with the isolated state began to ease. Pyongyang has indicated that it is willing to re-establish diplomatic ties with the outside world, beginning with the Pyeongchang Olympics, which were hailed as the “Peace Olympics”. In April, US officials confirmed that then-CIA director Mike Pompeo had visited Kim Jong-Un in a top-secret meeting over Easter. On April 27th, North and South Korean leaders Kim Jong-Un and Moon Jae-In held a historic summit, the first in over a decade. The two nations announced that they have agreed to end the 60-year Korean War and signed the Panmunjom Declaration which agreed to denuclearise North Korea.
The historic summit is slated to take place on June 12th, 2018. It will take place at Capella Hotel on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa, Singapore. Pyongyang has already released three American citizens detained in North Korea in what is being viewed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the summit.
Singapore was chosen as the venue for the meeting as the nation is in good terms with both the US and North Korea. It is one of the few nations with a North Korean embassy. Singapore established relations with North Korea in 1975 and was business partners with the isolated nation until 2016. Some analysts have even suggested that North Korea’s old-fashioned airplanes would not be able to handle a longer journey to more traditional diplomatic locations such as Switzerland.
Earlier in May, it seemed like the summit would not take place as President Trump withdrew. However, he once again reiterated his commitment to North Korea recently. He has also softened his stance against the isolated nation. He had demanded for complete and immediate denuclearization as a prerequisite. However, now he has stated that he just wants to take the first step in diplomacy. "We're not going to go in and sign something on June 12 ... We're going to start a process," he told reporters.
It was a dramatic change in course from the president, who has previously insisted the reclusive regime surrender its weapons arsenal in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible" manner. The president's shift to a less hard-line position "is fuelling concerns that he will not press hard in Singapore to extract a clear promise from Kim to achieve 'complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization' in a short period of time," analysts at political consultancy Eurasia Group said in a note this week.
It has been revealed that during the summit, President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would be protected by the Gurkhas of Nepal. They are considered to be one of the fiercest tribes in the world. The Gurkha Contingent is a line department of the Singapore Police Force consisting primarily of Gurkhas from Nepal. Members of the GC are trained to be highly skilled. They will be joined by the elite Singaporean police as well as security detail from both the US and North Korea.
“They are among the best Singapore can offer, and I am sure they will be involved (in the summit),” said Tim Huxley, an expert on Singapore’s armed forces at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). “They remain very much a substantial and frontline force, and the demands of this kind of event are precisely the sort of special operation that the Gurkhas are trained to handle,” he said.
Our assessment is that the summit carries extremely high stakes and can determine the future of the Korean peninsula. However, it is still to early to determine whether or not it would be successful. On one hand, is a highly reclusive state that has isolated itself from the world and on the other side of the negotiating table is a US President who is known to be unpredictable.