Minister Vivian Balakrishnan: We Singaporeans are here to serve tea and coffee
Commenting on the Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un meeting in Singapore last Thursday (June 7), Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said that Singaporeans are there to "serve tea and coffee":
"I am confident we will do our best as hosts. I tell both the North Koreans and the Americans, we are there to serve tea and coffee."
The June 12 meeting hosted by Singapore has so far been logistically smooth, with Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un safely landed in Singapore last night (June 10).
In a media interview, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong bragged that Singapore will be sponsoring the event which is estimated to cost about S$20 million:
"The bill for hosting the historic Trump-Kim summit will come up to about $20 million. This is Singapore's contribution to an international endeavour that is in our profound interest. It is a cost we are willing to pay. Security costs would account for about half of that figure...The summit is a plus for Singapore. It gives us publicity. The fact that we have been chosen as the site of the meeting - we did not ask for it, but we were asked and we agreed - says something about Singapore's relations with the parties, with America, with North Korea, also our standing in the international community. Singapore might be able to recoup some of the costs of hosting the summit. If you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the real important things. And in this case what is important is that the summit is held, and we are hosting it, not extravagantly but with due consideration to costs, but making sure operational requirements are met."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong inaccurately claimed that the US and North Korea found it it "very hard" to find a meeting location, however high level US officials have previously suggested South Korea, Thailand or Singapore:
"It is not easy to find a suitable location to host such a meeting. Both parties must agree on a venue that meets their requirements and is both politically and diplomatically acceptable to them. Therefore, when the two sides asked us to host the meeting, we cannot say no. We have to step up...we can do a good job."
For paying the princely sum of S$20 million, Lee Hsien Loong gets to have a one-to-one meeting directly with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump separately.
Both the US and North Korea are discussing to trade North Korea's nuclear disarmament for US's withdrawal of troops in South Korea. The deal, if worked out, will bring an official end to the civil war between North and South Korea. South Korea President and China have been the key mediators with North Korea in recent years, as everyone is worried about an unstable Donald Trump jeopardising peace and security in the region.