Trump Indicates Willingness to Meet North Korean Leader in the DMZ
Posted April 30, 2018 9:32 a.m. EDT
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signaled his preference Monday to meet Kim Jong Un, the North Korean ruler, in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, following the example set last week by the leaders of the two Koreas.
“Numerous countries are being considered for the MEETING,” Trump tweeted Monday morning, “but would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country? Just asking!”
White House officials have been discussing sites as far-flung as Singapore and Mongolia for the planned meeting between Trump and Kim. Officials had privately played down the possibility of the Peace House, a three-story, gray stone edifice built by South Korea to hold meetings with officials from the North. The concern has been the optics of Trump traveling to Kim’s doorstep.
The discussion comes following dramatic images of Kim greeting South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, at the line of demarcation between North and South, and sitting down with him in the Peace House.
Trump has heaped praise on the meeting, and it has accelerated the momentum behind his own encounter with Kim, planned for late May or early June. His tweet about meeting at the Peace House could be read as a trial balloon or even a form of crowdsourcing.
While officials said last week that Singapore or Mongolia were still possible venues, they also said sites in South Korea were under consideration. Among the logistical issues is Kim’s ability to travel long distances, given the rickety condition of his aircraft.
On Sunday, the South Korean government said Kim told Moon that North Korea would relinquish its nuclear weapons if the United States pledged not to attack it and endorsed a peace treaty formally ending the military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
A Trump-Kim meeting in the Peace House, which sits just south of the line of demarcation between North and South Korea, would be laden with symbolism. It would also give Trump the chance to get to a place he missed the last time he was in South Korea. Heavy fog forced his helicopter to turn around shortly before he was to land in the Demilitarized Zone.