Trump-Kim summit: Who will foot the bill for North Korea?
The North Korean regime is notorious for being miserly when it comes to reaching for the check, a fact that is complicating logistics in a big way for the upcoming summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
The historic meeting is slated for June 12 at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island in Singapore, following weeks of back and forth between the U.S. and North Korea over whether negotiations to wind down the regime’s nuclear program would actually take place.
Trump voiced confidence Thursday, saying: “This will not be just a photo op.”
“If they do not denuclearize, that will not be acceptable,” he said, during an Oval Office meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, adding, “it’s gonna be a very fruitful meeting.”
But the question of who will foot the bill for accommodations for North Korea has garnered attention, amid signals that the cash-strapped Hermit Kingdom won’t pay for lodging for its own delegation to the talks.
The comp expectation has presented somewhat of a diplomatic dilemma. A recent Washington Post report said the regime requires that a foreign country pay its accommodation costs, and suggested the U.S. was in talks to find a discreet way to foot the hotel bill.
But the Trump administration now says the U.S. government is not going to cover those costs.
“We are not paying for their travel,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News on Thursday.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also confirmed this week that the U.S. is not paying for accommodation costs for the North Korean delegation in Singapore.
So who is?
This is no stay at the Hampton. Kim reportedly is seeking to stay at the Fullerton Hotel, near the Singapore River. A presidential suite costs approximately $6,000 per night.
This week, Sanders also said that the U.S. was not asking any other country to help fund the North Korean delegation’s trip.
Over the weekend, though, Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen reportedly said they were “willing to bear” some costs “to play a small part in this historic meeting.”
And U.S.-based hotel company HotelPlanner told Fox News on Thursday that it also offered to pay for accommodations for the North Korean delegation, but noted they have not made direct contact with Pyongyang.
“We faxed the invitation to the North Korean consulate in China, but they have yet to respond,” a spokesperson for HotelPlanner told Fox News Thursday.
HotelPlanner CEO Tim Hentschel told Fox News on Thursday that his company is “qualified” to pay for the arrangements.
“We think it’s the right thing to do. We can help and we want to help,” Hentschel told Fox News. “Obviously this is a very important step to world peace.”
Hentschel said he anticipated the cost for lodging, food and beverage for the delegation to be approximately $100,000.
“We’re comfortable with that,” Hentschel said, noting that while they would rather work with existing HotelPlanner hotel partners, the company would be willing to accommodate Kim at his desired Fullerton Hotel.
“We haven’t heard back from them yet, but if that’s what they want to do, then we’ll initiate the talks with the Fullerton,” Hentschel said.
While Pyongyang has not outright said it will not pay for its own delegation’s lodging at the summit, the regime has a history of being stingy when it comes time to pay.
Most recently, during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea reportedly spent $2.6 million to pay for the North Korean delegation’s attendance, and the International Olympics Committee reportedly paid for 22 North Korean athletes to travel to the games.
Back in 2014, during the Obama administration, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper traveled to North Korea, and reportedly was served an “elaborate 12-course Korean meal” by his North Korean hosts, but then was asked to pay for it.
A spokesman for Clapper did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.