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Shortlist For Historic US-North Korea Summit Narrowed Down To 2 Locations

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

After President Donald Trump sought to crowdsource the location of the historic US-North Korea summit by asking his twitter followers if they'd appreciate the symbolic significance of a meeting along the Demilitarized Zone, a South Korean newspaper reports that Panmunjeom – the border village where the Korean War armistice was signed – and Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, are the final two candidates, according to two anonymous US officials. 

"The US is currently pushing for Panmunjeom and North Korea for Pyongyang as the site of the summit," a source in Washington who is familiar with developments concerning the summit said on April 30.

"A few days ago, President Trump said that the candidates for the North Korea-US summit had been narrowed down to two, but North Korea and the US were already talking about Panmunjeom and Pyongyang two weeks before he made those remarks," the source said.

The report in South Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper suggests that "third country" locations like Switzerland and Sweden, which were initially touted as possible locations for the summit, have been definitively ruled out.

North Korea

During a joint press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari at the White House on Friday, Trump responded to a question about the possibility of holding the summit in the DMZ, saying "some people don't like the look of that" but that there'd be a "great celebration" to be had on the site if the talks go well.

"Some people don't like the look of that, some people like that very much. [...] There’s something I like about it because [...] you're actually there where if things work out there's a great celebration to be had on the site not in a third party country."

Other sources explained that Trump's push to hold the summit at the DMZ is a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting more nuclear concessions, since the North Koreans are pushing to host the summit in Pyongyang.

Of course, choosing a location should be an afterthought assuming the North Koreans are serious about denuclearization.

"If, in fact, Kim has made a strategic decision to give up his entire nuclear weapons program, then I think deciding on the place and the date should be fairly easy," said John Bolton.

Bolton's remarks, according to Hankyoreh, appear to suggest that the US would be willing to hold the talks in Pyongyang if North Korea is willing to make certain concessions on the scope and time frame of denuclearization.

According to diplomats, the optics of President Trump visiting Pyongyang, the capital of a country with which he was only recently exchanging nuclear threats, would create a powerful image. However, a meeting at Panmunjeom would also carry symbolic weight, given its role in the original Korean War peace talks. Panmunjeom was one of a handful of potential summit locations that were discussed during the phone call between President Moon and Trump on April 28. Most recently, it was the site of the historic inter-Korea summit held on April 27. 

"Panmunjeom has considerable significance as the place where division was dissolved and a milestone to peace was erected," a senior official at the Blue House said on May 1.

"If Panmunjeom turns out to be the site of the North Korea-US summit, the summit could end up being even more symbolic than the Malta Summit," Blue House Chief of Staff Im Jong-seok said last month. The Malta Summit was when the leaders of the US and the Soviet Union met in 1989 to officially declare the end of the Cold War.

Hankyoreh added that Panmunjeom would also be useful because of the minimum of ceremony that such a meeting would require, as opposed to a summit in Pyongyang, which would be considerably more high maintenance. Furthermore, South Korea's Blue House believes that if an agreement is reached during the meeting, it would be best for South Korean President Moon Jae in to immediately join the two leaders for a trilateral summit aimed at officially bringing an end to the Korean War.


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