President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back on, but there are still a number of logistical issues that need to be addressed beforehand.
North Korea, a proud-yet-impoverished country, apparently needs another country to cover the costs of its supreme leader’s hotel stay at The Fullerton, an expensive five-star hotel in Singapore preferred by the North Koreans, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing two people familiar with preparations. The U.S. is reportedly trying to figure out how to discreetly pick up the tab without insulting the easily-agitated North Koreans. (RELATED: Trump: North Korea Summit Is BACK ON)
The president, on the other hand, is expected to stay at the Shangri-La during the highly-anticipated summit.
Paying Kim’s hotel bill is one of several important matters being discussed by the U.S. and North Korean teams in Singapore, teams led by White House deputy chief of staff Joe Hagin and Kim’s de facto chief of staff, Kim Chang Son. The cost of a presidential suite at The Fullerton can run as much as $6,000 a night, reports The Post.
It is unusual that there is a need for discretion given that the North Koreans have a history of demanding that other countries foot the bill for its participation in international events.
During the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Seoul agreed to spend $2.6 million to cover the costs of North Korea’s participation — not the athletes but rather the North’s massive collection of cheerleaders. (RELATED: North Korea Learns Crime Does Pay As South Korea Agrees To Pay Its Massive Olympic Bill)
For the first inter-Korean summit in 2000, South Korea reportedly paid North Korea $500 million to come to the table.
North Korea “constantly couples its diplomacy with demands for aid, especially cash, as though the international community has to pay for the privilege of engaging,” Robert Kelly, a professor of international relations at Pusan National University in South Korea, told The Washington Post back during the Olympics.
Apparently, the upcoming summit is no different, although the cost of the hotel is significantly lower, making such a payment less of a concession but still a problem. As North Korea is heavily sanctioned for its illicit weapons programs, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control would need to issue a waiver to temporarily suspend the application of sanctions for such payments to be possible.
There is the possibility the U.S. will ask the host country to cover the costs.
Much uncertainty has surrounded the Trump-Kim summit this past week, but it seems that the summit is definitely going to happen.
In response to several North Korean statements critical of the U.S. and the present administration, Trump canceled his planned summit with Kim last Thursday. Since then, both sides have engaged in serious talks to salvage the summit. Following a visit to the U.S., which included a visit to the White House by North Korean senior official Kim Yong Chol, who delivered a letter to Trump from his head of state, the president announced that the summit is going to take place on June 12. There is a lot to work out and not a lot of time.
In addition to logistical issues, the matter of denuclearization remains the biggest challenge of all.
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