Kim's Singapore trip raises questions about security

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  June 6, 2018 at 9:43 AM
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June 6 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un's trip to Singapore will mark the first time the North Korean leader will be traveling abroad with advance notice -- a move that could pose risks to his safety.

Kim, who traveled secretly to China twice, could be the target of an airplane hijacking or a cyberattack, Japan's Sankei Shimbun reported.

For Kim's protection, Chinese fighter jets could escort his aircraft to the site of the Tuesday summit, after he crosses into Chinese airspace, according to South Korean news network JTBC.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who tweeted Tuesday the meeting in Singapore will "hopefully be the start of something big," will be arriving in the country at 11 p.m. on Sunday and will probably stay at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Neither Kim's hotel nor arrival time is confirmed, but local Singapore reports suggest he may either stay at the Fullerton or St. Regis.

His younger sister Kim Yo Jong is expected to accompany the North Korean leader with trusted aides Kim Yong Chol and Choe Son Hui.

Choe Ryong Hae, vice chairman of the state affairs commission, will stay in Pyongyang managing leadership duties during the summit.

The summit is to take place at the Capella Hotel, which is not taking any other reservations until after June 18, according to JTBC.

Ahead of the summit, Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is to visit Pyongyang on Thursday and Friday, according to the Straits Times.

Balakrishnan is traveling to the country upon the invitation of his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho.

He is also expected to meet with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly.

Balakrishnan exchanged a phone call with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa on Monday and met with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday, according to South Korean news service News 1.

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