With a confirmation from Trump for the US-North Korea Summit on 12th June in Singapore, US event planners are working closely with North Korean counterparts to set up the summit at an island resort. But the Americans have an important side task – to find a discreet way to pay for Kim Jong Un’s five-star hotel bill in Singapore.
North Korea is known for requiring foreign countries to foot their bills at preferred lodgings – for instance, during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea set aside $2.6 million to cover travel accommodations for a North Korean participants. And again, the prideful yet cash-poor rogue nation requires its hosts to foot the logistic and accommodation bills. For the upcoming meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, the preferred stay by North Korea is: The Fullerton, a magnificent neoclassical hotel near the mouth of the Singapore River where just one presidential suite costs more than $6000 per night.
While the US is open to pay the costs of Kim’s preferred 5-star hotel bill, direct payment of the bill might be seen to be “insulting” from the North Korean view point. This is why, the US is looking up for a discreet way to pay out for Kim’s hotel bills, without offending them – hence, U.S. planners are considering asking the host country Singapore to pay for North Korean delegation hotel bills. Also, the US paying for DPRK delegation would mean breaking the Treasury Department sanctions implemented against North Korea. To make the transaction happen, US will have to require the Office of Foreign Assets Control to “temporarily suspend the applicability of sanctions” through a waiver.
At the UN, the US will require to request these waivers from the UN and Treasury for a range of payments associated with North Korea’s travel, but a long list of exemptions could draw scrutiny. However, the stay in Singapore will not be the only obstacle – in fact, the de facto nation’s Soviet-era aircraft will have to make a landing in China because it might not make it to a non-stop 3000 mile trip – which will be covered up by a trip around in China to conceal the embarrassment with a plausible story; or the delegation might travel in aircraft provided by other country. The irony is, these points are given way more importance than the actual purpose and content for negotiation.