North Korean leader Kim Jong-un invited US President Donald Trump for talks and Trump has agreed. So the question is: Where will they meet for the talks that could mark a potential breakthrough in the standoff surrounding the North’s nuclear programme?
Kim’s invitation arrived Thursday at the US White House delivered by South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong in a stunning development following months of mutual bellicose rhetoric.
Chung led a special envoy of South Korean President Moon Jae-in to visit North Korea to meet Kim on Monday, where the two rival Koreas also agreed to separately hold a summit in late April in Panmunjeom, at the Peace House on the South’s side, according to Chung.
“Washington is not likely to be an option,” Cho Han-bum, senior researcher of the Korea Institute for National Unification said when asked what a possible location would be for holding talks between Kim and Trump.
“It is hard to say that Kim has consolidated his power yet, and it would not be easy for Kim to leave Pyongyang amid enhanced sanctions. The Panmunjom truce village or Jeju will be the most likely for peace talks. Jeju Island is a symbol of peace as it was designated as the Island of World Peace by the South, and most importantly, the island is a convenient place to move from one place to another by both parties,” the researcher told The Korea Herald.
The US leader’s unconventional foreign policy style makes Pyongyang yet another possible place for holding talks, according to Kim Yeon-chul, unification professor at Inje University.
“Trump might make a surprise move by agreeing to visit Pyongyang (as part of breakthroughs),” Kim said.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted about “Great progress being made” and a “Meeting being planned,” adding that “sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached.”
The White House also confirmed that Trump is ready to meet Kim “by May,” although an exact time and location are yet to be determined.