The United States (US) President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un are set to meet in Singapore today for a highly anticipated summit.
Singapore is the Switzerland of Southeast Asia, wealthy and exclusive, a politically neutral small state surrounded by larger powers.
Some 3,000 journalists are expected to descend on Singapore. Hotel rooms are at near capacity and taxi drivers are bracing for excessive demand and traffic gridlock.
The Tanglin neighbourhood surrounding the Shangri-La Hotel and the entire resort island of Sentosa will be locked down as “special event” areas with security measures such as road closures and spot checks.
Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore on Sunday ahead of today’s meeting.
Kim met with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee at his Istana residence after his arrival, in talks which North Korea’s KCNA news agency said proceeded “in an amicable and friendly atmosphere”.
The outcomes of today’s unprecedented meeting are highly uncertain, but analysts say that the mere fact that the meeting is on is a step forward.
But there are doubts denuclearisation of North Korea is achievable in the short term.
“North Korea cannot denuclearise completely right now and hope to be safe from a president who said we’re going to rain fire and fury on you, from a country that’s been calling you evil for 25 years,” said Horacio Falcao, a negotiations expert at the Insead graduate business school in Singapore.
One analyst told Al Jazeera Trump will seek to promote his image as a deal-maker.
“Trump is a publicity seeker. He sees the summit not as a means to an end, but the end itself. He’s much more interested in the theatrics of public policy, rather than the substance,” Resnick said.
Before today’s meeting, officials from US and North Korean delegations have finished up a meeting in preparation of Tuesday’s summit.
US ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, led the US delegation while Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui was part of North Korea’s delegation.
The meeting lasted more than two hours and took place at the Ritz Carlton.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, tweeted the talks had been “substantive and detailed”. —Al Jazeera