Singapore testing security measures before N. Korea-U.S. summit

SINGAPORE, North Korean Embassy cars were on standby at the underground parking lot of a Singapore hotel throughout Friday.

Reporters, mostly from South Korea and Japan, continued to stake out roads near the Fullerton Hotel, where North Korea's summit preparation team is staying, and its lobby.

On a request to put through a call to the room of Kim Chang-son, a senior North Korean official leading the delegation, a receptionist said there's no guest with that name. It suggests he either booked the room with an alias or the name of another North Korean official.

Kim arrived in the city state Monday and had a few rounds of meetings with the U.S. delegation headed by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa.

The narrow road to the compound, the temporary home to the U.S. officials, remained blocked by security guards. A security official cited an "important private event" there.

The two sides are in Singapore apparently to discuss the logistical details of the summit talks between the North's leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump that will likely take place in Singapore later this month.

"They appear to be waiting for additional instructions from their governments, as Kim Yong-chol. vice chairman of the Workers' Party's Central Committee, is on a visit to the U.S.," a diplomatic source said.

On the other side of this city state, the defense chiefs of Asia-Pacific and European countries were set to convene an annual security forum, called the Shangri-La Dialogue.

South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo began his trip to Singapore earlier Friday and the Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis, was also seen entering the venue, the Shangri-La Hotel.

Police, armed with rifles and pistols, conducted road blocks and stringent security checks around the hotel.

The hotel is among the top candidates to host the Kim-Trump meeting, given its history of serving as the stage for a number of major meetings and its location minutes away from bustling streets.

In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou held a landmark summit at the hotel.

A South Korean resident in Singapore said, "Many think it's natural that the Shangri-La Hotel will become the venue. Singapore is a globally hot tourist spot. Taking security and safety measures is not an easy matter for other major hotels. In that sense, Shangri-La is a good place."

If North Korea and the U.S. have the Shangri-La in mind, the three-day security forum to last through Sunday at the hotel can be a last-minute test of security conditions.

The hotelier at the nearby Orchard Hotel, however, said the Istana, the official residence and office of the Singaporean president, is a better choice, adding it's easier to "manage the situations" there.

A local taxi driver said: "I know about the talk of the U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore. I am a bit worried about the possibility of a terrorist attack in Singapore because of it."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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