SEOUL (Reuters) – Since US President Donald Trump announced last week that he is willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, speculation has mounted over where might be chosen to host the first-ever meeting between sitting leaders of the two countries.
Analysts and observers have mentioned possible summit sites.
One of the most likely sites is the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom that straddles the Military Demarcation Line between North and South Korea. Mr Kim is scheduled to meet South Korean leader Moon Jae-in at the JSA in April for their first ever summit.
The scenic Jeju island, off the southern coast of South Korea, hosts an annual ‘peace and prosperity’ forum in May designed to attract international leaders. “As the ‘Island of Peace’, Jeju is the ideal place to hold the North Korea-US summit,” Jeju’s governor said.
Switzerland and Sweden have been raised as possible neutral locations for a summit. Both countries have international reputations as mediators, and both played a role to regulate relations between the two Koreas after the 1953 armistice.
A summit in Asia would be closer to home for the notoriously reclusive Mr Kim, and cities including Beijing, Singapore, Hanoi or even Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia can be possible venues for the talk. Beijing is one of Pyongyang’s biggest backers. Mongolia’s capital city, Ulaanbaatar, meanwhile, has been the site of past sensitive negotiation with North Koreans.
PYONGYANG OR WASHINGTON
As far as publicly known, Mr Kim has not left North Korea since he came to power in 2011, meaning any trip outside the country might be problematic. Previous meetings between North Korean and American officials have taken place in Pyongyang. Mr Kim could face problems traveling to the US, too, where no North Korean leader has visited.