May 31, 2018 11:36
U.S. and North Korean officials are holding a flurry of meetings in Singapore to discuss protocol and security for a historic summit between their leaders on June 12.
Representatives from both sides went to great length to dodge the media. A car that arrived at the Fullerton Hotel to pick up senior North Korean official Kim Chang-son on Wednesday darted from the ground floor to the underground parking level to avoid being spotted by reporters who were camped out in front of the luxury hotel.
The flashier Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, where the U.S. representatives are staying, barred the media from the premises.
The two sides refused to reveal the location of their talks. There was speculation that they were renting a Singaporean government building, but they met at the Capella Hotel instead.
North Korean representatives seemed to place the highest priority on protecting their leader during his visit to Singapore.
Singaporean media reported that the Shangri-La Hotel, Marina Bay Sands Hotel or Sentosa Island would be potential venues for the summit because they are all relatively isolated and easy to protect.
Sentosa looks like the winner so far. Only one bridge connects Singapore with the resort island, enabling security forces to completely seal off the venue, and the figure-of-8 Capella Hotel is a little fortress in acres of densely wooded gardens.
When a Chosun Ilbo reporter visited the hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday, security appeared to be extremely tight. Guards inspected every vehicle entering the premises to check if the passengers were guests of the hotel.
A taxi driver said, "I've been to many hotels, but this level of security is unheard of. The security must have been bolstered after the U.S. representatives arrived."
The Americans apparently reserved rooms at the hotel until June 12, when the summit is set to take place. The interior consists of a maze-like network of hallways, making it easy for a newcomer to get lost, and there are surveillance cameras everywhere. Hotel staff were carrying walkie-talkies and constantly checking if people walking in the grounds were hotel guests.
The second floor contains three meeting rooms, and the eastern side has been sealed off since Tuesday. U.S. government agents blocked people from entering a passageway on the second floor leading to the meeting room where the American and North Korean representatives were talking.
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