White House confirms Trump-Kim summit on resort island Sentosa

The five-star Capella Hotel was not an obvious choice because it has not previously hosted high-level political events

By Bhavan Jaipragas


/ UPDATED ON

The landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held at Singapore’s Capella Hotel on the island resort of Sentosa, off the city state’s southern tip, the White House has confirmed.

Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the venue on Twitter on Tuesday, writing: “The venue for the Singapore summit between @POTUS and Leader Kim Jong Un will be the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island. We thank our great Singaporean hosts for their hospitality.”

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The five-star hotel, owned by Singapore property firm Pontiac Land Group, was not an obvious choice among observers to host the June 12 event because, unlike the more central Shangri-La Hotel, high-key political meetings have not previously been held there.

Sentosa island has just one land link with mainland Singapore – a 710-metre causeway. It is also connected with the mainland via cable car.

The island has some two kilometres of sheltered beaches, two golf courses and is also the home of Universal Studios Singapore. It was once a pirate hang-out known as Pulau Belakang Mati, or “Island of Death from Behind”.

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Today, Sentosa – which means peace and tranquillity in Malay – is one of Singapore’s most prestigious addresses, with “good class” bungalows there costing up to S$50 million (US$37.4 million).

“The location of Capella hotel which is separated from [the] mainland may serve as a virtual wall to keep out security threats from approaching the summit,” Singaporean national security researcher Muhamamad Faizal Abdul Rahman told This Week in Asia.

The White House announcement on Wednesday came hours after the Singapore government published a notice on its official gazette declaring the entire Sentosa island a “special event area” from June 10 to June 14 – giving police additional powers to stop and search people.

Earlier this week, it issued a similar gazette order for the diplomatic district around Shangri-La Hotel, which is located next to the popular Orchard Road shopping district.

The nine-year-old Capella Hotel is designed by the acclaimed British architect Norman Foster and has 112 ultra-luxurious rooms and suites.

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Meeting rooms are equally elaborate, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the South China Sea.

Capella Hotel’s owner Pontiac Land is controlled by the Singaporean family known as the Kwee brothers.

Muhammad Faizal said the gazetting of Shangri-La Hotel could mean “both hotels could serve as venues for the summit but for different purposes”.

The Shangri-La Hotel, owned by Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok’s Kuok Group, plays host to the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum which is attended by defence ministers as well as more senior leaders from around the world.

The last edition, held last weekend, had Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the keynote speaker.

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The hotel also hosted the landmark meeting in 2015 between Chinese President Xi Jinping and the then Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou.

Diplomatic sources on Monday told This Week in Asia that Pyongyang was insistent that the historic meeting could not be held in an American- or European-owned venue.

This article originally appeared here via Google News