June 8 (UPI) — The Singaporean foreign minister’s visit to Pyongyang was made public in North Korea state media on Friday, a day after Vivian Balakrishnan arrived in North Korea to meet with officials.
Pyongyang’s state-controlled news agency KCNA reported Friday Balakrishnan met with Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho to discuss “bilateral cooperation.”
“Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan exchanged views regarding the upcoming summit and ways to expand bilateral cooperation between two countries with a long history and tradition,” KCNA stated. “The talks were held in a warm and friendly atmosphere.”
Yonhap reported it is likely the two officials discussed protocol and security issues ahead of Kim Jong Un’s arrival in Singapore.
Kim’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump is to begin at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, local time.
KCNA confirmed Balakrishnan also met wit Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and visited Mangyongdae, the official birthplace of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital and the Korean Revolution Museum.
Singapore has maintained diplomatic ties with North Korea since the ’70s, and its political neutrality over the decades has allowed the country to host North Koreans in exchanges that are banned in other countries.
But Singapore also continues to perform poorly in the World Press Freedom Index, ranking most recently 151 out of 180 countries, according to NGO Reporters Without Borders.
South Korean journalists have been arrested in Singapore ahead of the summit, including a reporter for television network KBS, South Korean news service Media Today reported.
The reporter was arrested near the North Korean Embassy in Singapore Thursday afternoon, then was turned over to local police.
Authorities are investigating the reporter for trespassing.
In a separate incident in May, reporters for network YTN underwent Singapore investigation after photographing a U.S. military facility.
The journalists were questioned “for hours,” YTN stated.