As the US prepared for a summit some hoped may bring peace to the long-divided Korean peninsula, Washington accidentally hinted at another unlikely reunion by listing Singapore as part of Malaysia.
The US State Department published on its website remarks made Monday by top diplomat Mike Pompeo ahead of the historic meeting, in a post initially stating they were delivered at a hotel in “Singapore, Malaysia”.
The wealthy financial hub and its larger neighbor were part of the same country for two years in the 1960s until Singapore was expelled over ethnic divisions with Malaysia, and they have been separate nations ever since.
The slip-up was quickly corrected after it started to go viral but not before triggering sniggers from netizens, with one Facebook user lamenting: “To the average American, the world is America.”
People from both countries, whose histories have been marked by constant bickering and diplomatic flare-ups, were put out by the suggestion they may still be one and the same nation.
One commentator posted that the remark was “definitely a bigger let down for Singapore and Singaporeans”, while a Malaysian angrily posted on Facebook that there should be no mix-up as Malaysia was “more famous” than the city-state.
Pompeo’s comments came ahead of Tuesday’s meeting in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which focused on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
North and South Korea were divided by the US and Soviet Union in the closing days of World War II.
Trump and Kim have hailed their summit as a breakthrough in relations between Cold War foes, but an agreement they produced was short on details about the key issue of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.