Trump officials prepare for Singapore summit with North Korea
Administration officials have been instructed to move forward with plans to convene a historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, according to two people familiar with the plans.
The decision is ultimately up to Trump, who said on Wednesday he would announce the time and location in three days.
Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump ruled out the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea as a potential location for the talks with Kim. Singapore and the DMZ are the only two places Trump has floated in public as potential venues for the meeting.
The Southeast Asian city-state has been the preferred location among US officials, who saw its neutrality as an advantage over locations closer to Pyongyang.
The White House declined to comment on the summit’s location.
Speaking during a briefing Wednesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders affirmed that a date and site had been determined.
“I can tell you that a date and location are set but beyond that, I don’t have any other announcements at this point,” Sanders said. “But we expect that to be announced here in the next few days.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been in Pyongyang to discuss details of the upcoming summit. Pompeo met personally with Kim, during which time the two spoke about summit plans and other issues. Kim also agreed to release three Americans held by North Korea.
The meeting would be the first ever between a sitting US President and a North Korean leader.
Singapore has long been seen as a gateway between Asia and the West, and today remains a close ally to Washington and also hosts a US military presence. It’s also one of just 47 countries to host a North Korean embassy.
However, Singapore may lack some of the symbolism and photogenic advantages of the DMZ, which were on full display during last month’s summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Trump administration officials at the time said the President was impressed by the historic images that came from that meeting. Shortly after the Moon-Kim encounter, Trump mused about holding the summit at the DMZ.
Even as Trump on Wednesday sought to heighten expectations for his summit, he acknowledged that the plans could fall apart.
“Everything can be scuttled. Everything can be scuttled,” he said. “A lot of good things can happen, a lot of bad things can happen. I believe that we have — both sides want to negotiate a deal. I think it’s going to be a very successful deal.”
But, he repeated, “lots of things can happen. And, of course, you’ll be the first to know about it if it fails.”