Speculations are rife over the location where US President Donald Trump may meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. The American president had earlier expressed that he was willing to meet Kim last week for what will be the first such bilateral meeting between ruling leaders of the two countries. The North Korean leader has not yet confirmed on whether he has accepted Trump’s invitation for the meet and also the location and itinerary of the meet are yet to be finalised by the US authorities. However, the uncertainty has not curbed the excitement of experts, analysts and officials from debating the possible location of the first of its kind meet.
Here are top 5 locations being discussed, according to Reuters.
Joint Security Area, Panmunjom
The Joint Security Area in Panmunjom is located at the Military Demarcation Line between North and South Korea. It is being seen as the most likely site where the two leaders may agree to meet.
Along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom is the only spot where North’s forces stand face-to-face with South Korean and UN Command troops. A South Korean official told Reuters, ” Places like Switzerland, Sweden or Jeju Island have been gaining a lot of attention, but we also view the JSA as a serious option.”
Next month, the North and South Korean leaders will meet in the JSA region for their first summit. This makes it a top contender for Trump-Kim meet as well. However, JSA is also seen as a symbol of Korean War and continuing tensions. It remains to be seen whether the two leaders will make a place for a peace deal.
The scenic Jeju Island off the southern coast in South Korea is being considered to be the second top choice for the Trump-Kim meet. The island can be easily accessed by boat or plane from the Korean peninsula.
Professor John Delury of Yonsei University, who had led a Twitter discussion on possible Trump-Kim meeting location, told Reuters that he would stick with the Jeju Island, which hosts an annual “peace and prosperity” forum in May. The island is also dubbed as the “Island of Peace.”
The third could be European locations like Switzerland and Sweden. Both countries will be a neutral location for the Trump-Kim meet. Both countries had been members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which was formed to regulate relations between North and South Korea after the Korean was paused in 1953. Both Sweden and Switzerland had played a key role in the commission.
The North Korean leader is also believed to have attended school in Switzerland along with his siblings.
Trump-Kim meeting in Korea can also not be ruled out. They can meet in cities like Beijing, Singapore, Hanoi or Ulaanbaatar of Mongolia, says Reuters.
In past, China’s Beijing has hosted multilateral negotiations over North Korea. However, Trump may not like to put the spotlight on China during the meet.
Pyongyang or Washington
It is believed that Kim has not been out of North Korea since taking control of power in the country in 2011. In past, US officials have met North Korean leaders in Pyongyang. However, a visit by Trump to North Korea may be interpreted as an endorsement to the “brutal” regime of the country. Similarly, it may be difficult for Kim to travel to the US as no North Korean leader has previously visited the country.