Singapore is abuzz with activities and frantic preparations as Donald Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is less than two weeks away. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Singapore will play a good host to the summit scheduled on June 12. "I know that security agencies from the Home Team and the Singapore Armed Forces are busy planning to make sure that everything is safe. I know that officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are working very hard," he said stating that preparations are underway to book out hotels for around 3,000 journalists, organize tight security and set up meeting places, reported Channel New Asia. Law enforcement and government officials of the three countries are planning everything right from locations for photographs, catering, talking points and potential joint statements meticulously.
In this light, it is enticing to see the opening of a diplomatic path as a breakthrough on the Korean Peninsula. Unfortunately, there remains little chance that Kim is willing to barter away his one main insurance card - the nuclear programme - for regime survival. Indeed, Kim has staked his regime legitimacy on his push to develop nuclear weapons, alongside economic development, in his byungjin line. Washington expects tangible progress and commitment towards denuclearisation. Pyongyang, meanwhile, is looking for security assurances, diplomatic recognition and acceptance from the Trump administration of its status as a nuclear weapons state.
The US president raised the possibility while hosting Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe - who wants the release of Japanese citizens allegedly abducted by the North Koreans decades ago. Donald Trump believes the summit in Singapore can make progress towards North Korea abandoning its nuclear programme. But insists he could still walk away. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher has more from Washington.
"We are going to do everything we can to come to a successful meeting, but we are not going to back away from the objective of that meeting, which is complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea," said Bolton, who was singled out for criticism when Pyongyang made the threat.
"A summit is a reward to North Korea," said Robert Kelly, a professor at South Korea's Pusan National University. "It extends the prestige of meeting the head of state of the world's strongest power and leading democracy. That is why we should not do it unless we get a meaningful concession from North Korea. That is why other presidents have not done it."