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Singapore paying for North Korea's hotel stay at Trump-Kim summit: Vivian Balakrishnan

[SINGAPORE] Singapore is footing the hotel bill for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his contingent, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Monday.

"It's hospitality that we would have offered them, and as Chairman Kim said yesterday, he would have liked to have come to Singapore anyway, with or without the summit," Dr Balakrishnan said in an interview with the BBC.

Mr Kim arrived in town on Sunday for a historic summit on Tuesday with US President Donald Trump to discuss possible denuclearisation efforts.

"We would of course have offered hospitality," Dr Balakrishnan added, when asked if Singapore paid for the North Korean contingent's hotel stay at the St Regis.

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He added that the expenditure forms part of the S$20 million that Singapore is spending on the summit in all.

In a separate question, the BBC interviewer noted that Mr Kim is notoriously paranoid about his safety and asked what Singapore had to do to reassure him.

Dr Balakrishnan said the North Korean advance team came to Singapore, walked the grounds, checked the hotels and met local officials.

"I think over the weeks that they spent with us, they gained greater confidence that we are sort of no-nonsense but efficient people," he said. "We are good for our word, we are meticulous, we pay attention to details - every smallest detail. All that I think gave them confidence that this was the right site, the right choice."

He added: "Because what you want is a conducive site so that their minds are clear to focus on the substantive negotiations. And we have been able, so far anyway, to provide that confidence."

THE STRAITS TIMES

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