A US State Department spokeswoman has reportedly confirmed that the United States will not cover North Korea’s expenses during next week’s historic summit between the two countries, making it more likely than ever that Singaporean taxpayers will be footing the bill.
With the meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un scheduled to take place in less than a week in Singapore, the question of who will foot the bill is one of the many pressing questions about the historic summit which remains unanswered.
The Washington Post speculated last week that — in an effort to avoid insulting Kim by offering to pay directly — the US government was trying to find a “discreet way” to pay for the North Koreans’ share of the summit. One possibility floated — and confirmed to some degree by Minister of Defense Ng Eng Hen — was that Singapore would be willing to foot the bill.
But speculation that the US was involved in paying the dictator’s tab ended abruptly on Wednesday.
“The United States government is not paying for the North Korean delegation to stay,” Heather Nauert, Trump’s acting head of Public Diplomacy, said at a regular press briefing. According to her, the White House and State Department were also not soliciting other countries (ie, Singapore) to pay for North Korea’s accommodations.
North Korea has a record of getting other countries to cover the costs when leaders and officials attend international events, claiming they cannot afford it — despite having the cash to churn out nukes. Most notably, the South Korean government paid US$2.6 million for the North Korean delegation’s transportation, meals, and hotel bills at the Pyeongchang Olympics earlier this year.
Without the aid of the US, that leaves Singapore scrambling to sort out the logistics if Kim and his team does skip out on the bill.
While the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) offered to split Kim’s lodging costs with the Singaporean government, it is still unclear who will ultimately kick in to fund the meals and accommodation for the rest of North Korea’s delegation. And parties, no doubt, because they seem like they party hard.
Details about the official budget have not yet been released, but the cost of Kim’s Fullerton Hotel room alone is expected to cost about S$8,000 (US$6,000). That may change, considering that he might be staying at The St. Regis — a bespoke Orchard Road hotel with butler service — in the end.