South Korean and U.S. soldiers stand guard next to United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) conference buildings at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju, South Korea (Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg)  

Trump Floats Kim Summit in Demilitarized Zone, Singapore

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said Monday his administration is considering holding a potential meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone marking the North’s border with South Korea, or in other countries, including Singapore.

Trump, speaking at a joint White House press conference with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, also expressed optimism that the summit would take place and reiterated that he would leave if it wasn’t a success.

After tweeting earlier in the day about the possibility of holding the talks at the demilitarized zone, Trump returned to the idea, calling the venue an “intriguing” location.

“Some people maybe don’t like the look of that and some people like it very much,” Trump said. The president added that it was appealing because “you’re there, you’re actually there.”

CNN reported, citing an unidentified official, that South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week convinced Kim to hold his meeting with Trump at the DMZ.

“If things work out, there is a great celebration to be had on the site, not in a third-party country,” Trump said. He added that his administration is also looking at Singapore and other countries as potential hosts. “The good news is everybody wants us. It has a chance to be a big event.”

Trump previously said potential locations for the historic meeting had been whittled down to two or three locations. The president has said he hopes to meet with Kim by early June to try to resolve a standoff between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Trump has praised Kim’s rapid steps toward resolving the standoff and expressed optimism about the possibility of reaching an agreement when the two leaders meet. Trump reaffirmed that view Monday, saying Kim has been “very open and straightforward so far,” and that he was confident the summit would take place.

‘Pretty Calm’

At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Monday that “right now I would just tell you we see no indicators or warnings of an increased military readiness or anything like that. On both sides, it’s pretty calm.”

In his latest gesture, Kim reportedly told South Korean president Moon Jae-in on Sunday that he would relinquish his nuclear weapons if the U.S. agreed to formally end the Korean War and pledge not to invade his country. Kim had already promised to close his main nuclear weapons test site in May and said he will invite South Korean and U.S. media to witness the shutdown.

Kim and Moon already met in the Peace House in Panmunjom last week after Kim walked across the military demarcation line.

Read more: Panmunjom, the Korea Truce Village and Tourism Oddity

The village of Panmunjom sits on the 38th parallel, a line drawn by the former Soviet Union and the U.S. after World War II to separate the countries. But it has served as ground zero for much of the turmoil since 1953 , including bloody clashes, defections -- and fruitless hopes for peace. Peace House is a three-story building built in 1989 for the specific purpose of hosting talks between the countries. It is controlled by the United Nations.

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