March 12, 2018 13:20
The border truce village of Panmunjom is the likeliest venue for a historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un scheduled for May.
The village will also host the inter-Korean summit in late April.
The New York Times on Friday reported, "The administration is already deliberating over the logistics and location of the meeting, with a senior State Department diplomat noting that the most obvious venue is the Peace House, a conference building in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea."
A key Cheong Wa Dae source also said Sunday that Panmunjom was "one of the most likely venues."
Panmunjom offers practical advantages because it sits in neutral territory, which creates fewer political and diplomatic complications for both leaders than a meeting in the U.S. or North Korea and also makes security easier to handle. It is also symbolic as the place where the ceasefire that halted the 1950-53 Korean War was signed.
North Korea still appears to favor Pyongyang. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton also considered traveling to the North Korean capital for a summit with then leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.
But there are fears that the North could exploit a visit by Trump to Pyongyang for internal propaganda purposes, which is why White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump "won't like the idea" of meeting him there.
The Swedish and Swiss governments have also offered to provide a venue for the talks. Sweden, which formed diplomatic relations with North Korea in 1973, has mediated in previous negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
The Swedish Embassy in North Korea has represented the U.S. in meetings with American citizens held captive in the North. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho will reportedly visit Sweden soon, and the move has raised speculation that he may be traveling there to scout possible venues for the summit.
Neutral Switzerland is another possible alternative since it is where the 1994 Geneva accords over the freezing of North Korea's nuclear weapons program was reached, and Kim went to school there.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com