Trump suggests meeting in DMZ

Matthew Pennington
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Like a consummate showman, President Donald Trump began rolling the drum Monday for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, suggesting the “big event” take place in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Koreas. That’s where Kim just met his South Korean counterpart.

But Trump said that the Southeast Asian city state of Singapore also was in the running to host what few would have predicted when nuclear tensions were soaring last year — the first face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea.

While policy experts, and even his own national security adviser, voice skepticism that North Korea is sincere about giving up its nuclear efforts, Trump sounds like he’s gearing up for a date with history and clearly wants the backdrop to be just right.

First by Twitter, and then at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he likes the idea of going to the southern side of the demarcation line that separates the Koreas, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Kim on Friday.

‘Celebration’: “There’s something that I like about it because you are there, you are actually there,” Trump said. “If things work out, there’s a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country.”

His planned meeting with Kim will be the crucial follow-up to the summit between Kim and Moon on Friday where they pledged to seek a formal end this year to the Korean War — a conflict that was halted in 1953 by an armistice and not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides technically at war. They also committed to ridding the peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Trump gave the impression Monday that governments were vying to host his face-to-face with Kim and share in the attention it would bring.

“Everybody wants us. It has the chance to be a big event,” the president said Monday at the White House.

The United States has reached aid-for-disarmament deals with North Korea before, but they’ve ultimately failed. The most enduring effort negotiated by the Bill Clinton administration in 1994 halted the North’s production of plutonium for nearly a decade. But it collapsed over suspicions that North Korea had a secret program to enrich uranium, giving it an alternative route to make fissile material for bombs.