The list of potential sites for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been narrowed to two countries, Trump said Friday.
“I think some very good things can happen with respect to North Korea. We’re setting up meetings now. We’re down to two countries, as to a site, and we’ll let you know what that site is,” Trump said during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
While the two sides have yet to arrive at a decision on where the summit will be held, US officials favor Singapore, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
Officials have ruled out sites in China and the Korean Peninsula for the talks, determining they wouldn’t appear neutral. Other locations in Europe appear less likely, the officials said, citing difficulties in getting Kim there on his rickety fleet of aircraft.
Mongolia also remains an option, but is viewed as less ideal because it is more remote. It’s not clear when a final site will be announced.
Negotiations are speeding ahead for the historic face-to-face. Trump hailed talks Friday between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in as “a very positive thing” and said it would be a “great thing for the world” if tensions can be eased.
But still, Trump warned he would not played by Kim, who has grown increasingly willing to engage in diplomacy. And he again raised the prospect of standing up and walking out of the meeting if it falls short of his expectations.
He offered strong words for past presidents, who he declared had been hoodwinked by the North Koreans.
“The United States has been played beautifully, like a fiddle, because you had a different kind of a leader. We’re not going to be played, OK?” he said in the Oval Office ahead of talks with Merkel.
“We’re going to hopefully make a deal. If we don’t, that’s fine,” he said. “The United States in the past was played like a fiddle.”
The breakthrough meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea was met with praise in Washington, though privately skepticism remains rampant that the audacious opening from the North will ultimately lead to the country ridding itself of nuclear weapons.
That’s the line Trump has drawn for his talks with Kim, but how that is achieved remains unclear. South Korea has favored a step-by-step approach where economic sanctions are lifted incrementally as Pyongyang makes moves toward dismantling its nuclear arsenal.
US officials, meanwhile, have said that no easing of sanctions will occur until North Korea takes concrete steps to end its nuclear program.
“We will, I think, come up with a solution. And if we don’t, we leave the room with great respect,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office.
Later, during the news conference, Trump said brokering peace on the Korean Peninsula could be a gift to the entire planet.
“It’s something I hope I can do for the world,” he said. “This is something I can do for the world. It’s something I hope I’m able to do for the world.”