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Trump and Kim Jong Un could meet at Demilitarized Zone, report says

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)
May 02, 2018

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might likely hold their historic summit at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, per the suggestion of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, CNN reported on Tuesday.

The venue already played host to Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in’s meeting last week, which marked the first time the two leaders had ever come together.

Trump on Monday tweeted out to his followers and the world asking if the meeting between him and Kim should take place at the Peace House on the border, or the DMZ.

“Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING, but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country? Just asking,” he tweeted.

According to an official with knowledge on the matter, there is a “strong possibility” the summit with Trump and Kim will also be held at the site, with some events possibly being scheduled on the north side of the military demarcation line.

No sitting U.S. president has ever visited North Korea, and Trump would be the first.

A spokesperson for the South Korean president endorsed the venue choice when asked to comment on Tuesday.

“(We) think Panmunjom [village] is quite meaningful as a place to erode the divide and establish a new milestone for peace,” the spokesperson told reporters. “Wouldn’t Panmunjom be the most symbolic place?”

Meeting at the DMZ has reportedly been on Trump’s mind, according to senior U.S. officials, who say the President had been talking about it recently.

Trump also mentioned the idea to Moon in a phone call.

Sources said Trump loved the images from the inter-Korean summit last week, and he is keen on the idea of having the occasion televised, as well.

Trump confirmed his thoughts to reporters on Monday.

“There’s something I like about it, because you’re there, if things work out, there’s a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third party country,” he said.

The President would like to be involved in a similar scene to the one that played out at the inter-Korea meeting, which included handshakes across the borderline and vast media coverage of the leaders’ time together from start to finish.

While much of Trump’s camp is eager to hold the meeting at the DMZ, some U.S. officials would still prefer a neutral meeting location instead. Skeptics worry that meeting in Korea would appease only Kim.

Officials argued that Singapore would be a better option, citing that the wealthy city-state is often viewed as a gateway between Asia and the West.

However, North Korea may decline such a proposal. A flight for Kim Jong Un is particularly difficult because of the country’s older, more outdated aircraft. There are also a number of security concerns, with North Korea’s leader preferring to travel via an armored train.

While officials have likely narrowed down the meeting location at this point, it should be noted that it has been particularly tricky to figure out the logistics in order for both countries to be happy.

Jean Lee, an expert on North Korea at the Wilson Center, said that the list of possible locations for such an important and historic meeting is quite short.

“Ultimately, they need a country where both leaders have the security they need, to have a country where they can meet [on] common ground … It’s a small number of countries, to be honest,” Lee said.