The US and North Korean leaders are likely to meet in Singapore in mid-June, according to South Korean media reports, as tensions ease on the Korean peninsula following the first inter-Korean summit in over a decade.
US President Donald Trump had floated the idea of holding the historic talks in the deeply symbolic setting of the demilitarised zone along the border between North and South Korea, but the two sides have instead chosen city state Singapore as a third-party host, unnamed sources told both the Chosun newspaper and Yonhap news agency.
This would push back the proposed date of the summit from late May to the third week of June, partially to wait until after the G7 summit – a bloc that includes both Japan and the US – in Canada on June 8 and 9, according to the reports. But given Trump’s unpredictability, there is still the possibility that he could change course and decide he would prefer to meet in Panmunjom village in the DMZ.
Trump himself confirmed on Friday that the time and place for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had been settled, without providing further details.
“We now have a date and we have a location,” he told reporters. “We’ll be announcing it soon.”
The summit comes after Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed the Panmunjom Declaration on April 27, agreeing to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and to usher in a “new era of peace”.
Moon will also travel to Washington on May 22 to discuss plans for the highly anticipated US-North Korea summit, playing a key role in trying to facilitate an official end to the Korean war.
Meanwhile China, North Korea’s ally and neighbour, has sought to avoid being sidelined in negotiations on the Korean peninsula.
On Saturday, Politburo member and director of the Foreign Affairs Commission Yang Jiechi spoke about the ongoing developments with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
During the phone call, Yang reasserted Beijing’s position on the importance of denuclearisation of the peninsula and regional peace and stability, and the need to use dialogue to resolve issues, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
“We hope that all parties will seriously consider the ‘dual-track’ approach China proposed, and work hard to maintain the positive momentum to resolve issues on the peninsula,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a media briefing. He was referring to Beijing’s proposal for North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for the US suspending its military drills in South Korea.
Besides Singapore, analysts have speculated that the venue for the Trump-Kim meeting could also be Mongolia, which Kim could travel to by bulletproof train.
Trump has also warned previously that he could call off the meeting altogether if he does not feel it would be “fruitful”.