Trump-Kim summit to be held on Singapore's Sentosa island

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An undated handout photo of Capella hotel on Sentosa island, Singapore, released June 5, 2018.Image source, Reuters/Capella Singapore
Image caption,
Mr Trump and Mr Kim will meet at the luxury Capella hotel on Sentosa island

The much-anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will take place at a hotel on the Singaporean island of Sentosa, the White House has confirmed.

The 12 June summit was called off two weeks ago by Mr Trump but has since been salvaged after a flurry of contacts between the two sides.

Mr Trump said on Tuesday that plans were "moving along very nicely".

The US wants Mr Kim to commit to giving up his nuclear weapons.

But it is unclear exactly what is on the table for the discussions in Singapore. Mr Trump has suggested the first meeting will kick off a longer process of negotiations, calling it a "get-to-know-you situation".

"A lot of relationships being built, a lot of negotiations going on before the trip," he told reporters on Tuesday. "It's very important - it'll be a very important couple of days."

The summit would represent the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president.

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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed on Twitter that the summit would take place at the five-star Capella Hotel.

But it appears that the two leaders will stay elsewhere. Mr Trump will likely be at the Shangri-La Hotel, where US presidents have stayed before, while Mr Kim will probably stay at the St Regis Singapore, the Straits Times newspaper reports. The two hotels are on the main island, near the famous Orchard Road shopping strip.

Sentosa is one of 63 islands that make up Singapore.

The 500-hectare island, only a short distance from the main island, is home to luxury resorts, private marinas and plush golf clubs.

But the island also has a dark history of piracy, bloodshed and war.

It was a pirates' haunt

Singapore was established as a British trading post in the 19th Century. Its prime location on the major sea route between India and China made it an ideal choice.

But even before British rule, Singapore was a flourishing trade centre, frequented by merchants and traders, as well as pirates.

Sentosa was known at that time as Pulau Blakang Mati, which directly translates as the "island behind death" - a reference to its violent piracy reputation.

The island's population was mostly Malay, Chinese and the Bugis - seafarers originally from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

It was a World War Two massacre site

Singapore fell to the Japanese in 1942, after British colonial forces surrendered.

It was given a new Japanese name - Syonan, meaning Light of the South.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The now tranquil beaches of Sentosa were once marred by bloodshed

Over the next few years, thousands of people were killed by the occupying forces.

Chinese men between the ages of 18 and 50 were summoned to various sites before being machine-gunned to death and thrown into the sea.

Among the massacre sites were the beaches on Sentosa, near the Capella hotel where Mr Trump and Mr Kim will meet.

Sentosa also hosted a prisoner-of-war camp, which held some 400 Allied troops and gunners.

Tourism boom and fatal accidents

In the 1970s, the Singaporean government renamed the island Sentosa, meaning "peace and tranquillity", and began developing it as a tourism site.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Sentosa has today been turned into a tourism hotspot, with the introduction of Universal Studios and the Resorts World casino

But the island's problems continued.

In 1983, two carriages on the tourist cable car plunged into the sea after an oil drilling vessel struck the ropeway.

A water park was opened - Fantasy Island - but was plagued by safety complaints. An eight-year-old girl died there in 2000 when her raft overturned. The park closed in 2002.

Sentosa has since re-invented itself as the "State of Fun". A Universal Studios theme park, a new water park and the Resorts World casino draw in thousands of Singaporeans and tourists each year.

The luxury backdrop to the talks

Image source, Robert Reck/Capella Singapore

The 30-acre, 112-room Capella resort, nestled in tropical rainforest and designed by the firm of renowned British architect Norman Foster, features several grand colonial-era buildings.

It describes itself as a place "where old and new fuse together in luxury".

Rooms are on offer from about $500 a night (£370) for a Premier Garden King Room to $7,500 a night (£5,600) for the Colonial Manor with three bedrooms and a private pool.

White House staff have already had a preview of the venue, with Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations Joe Hagin and other officials staying there as they have hammered out the details of the summit.

However, visitors hoping to grab a ringside seat will be disappointed. There are no rooms available from now until 15 June.

Playground of the rich and famous

Sentosa is home to one of the country's most prestigious residential enclaves - Sentosa Cove, where multi-million dollar homes with yacht docks can be found.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Yachts and boats are seen berthed at Sentosa's marina club

There is also an award-winning golf club with two courses, some of Singapore's most luxurious hotels and a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants.

So why Sentosa?

The island's location, just off the mainland, makes it a secure venue.

Access to the island can easily be controlled - there is just a cable car, a monorail, a pedestrian causeway and a vehicle tunnel.

And should the world leaders want a break from their historic talks, did we mention the golf courses?

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