Trump Says He Won't Meet Kim at Korea Demilitarized Zone

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said he and Kim Jong Un won’t meet in the Korea peninsula’s Demilitarized Zone for their unprecedented summit, and praised the North Korean leader for releasing three detained Americans.

Trump said again at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the time and place for the meeting with Kim had been decided, but would say only that it wouldn’t be in the DMZ. A South Korean newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported May 4 that the summit would most likely be in Singapore in the third week of June, citing diplomatic sources it didn’t identify in Washington.

“We have a really good shot at making it successful,” Trump said.

The three Korean-American men Kim released on Wednesday immediately boarded a plane with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and flew to Japan. They were seated with medical personnel, curtained off from reporters accompanying Pompeo on a short visit to Pyongyang.

Trump said he intends to meet them when they arrive in Washington at about 2 a.m. Thursday.

“I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this and allowing them to go,” Trump said.

Singapore -- almost 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) south of Pyongyang -- represents neutral turf for the two leaders. The city-state of 5.5 million people boasts security partnerships with the U.S., a North Korean embassy and strong ties with China.

Singapore’s government also has a history of putting together high-profile diplomatic events at short notice, notably hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s historic 2015 meeting with then Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou. Still, Kim’s agreement to travel so far from the safety of Pyongyang -- the farthest he’s ever been as leader -- could be seen as a concession by North Korea, should it happen.

Trump said that some details of the summit arrangements are still being negotiated.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.