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Pyongyang not eligible for US-NK summit venue

Seoul denied Wednesday that North Korea‘s capital was raised as a US-North Korea summit venue in recent talks with Washington.

Earlier reports speculated that Pyongyang was a strong candidate venue for the upcoming summit.
 
Late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met with then North Koraen leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang for the first inter-Korean summit held in 2000. (Yonhap)
Late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung met with then North Koraen leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang for the first inter-Korean summit held in 2000. (Yonhap)

“When President Moon Jae-in and President Donald Trump discussed two or three candidate venues (via phone) on April 28, Pyongyang wasn’t mentioned as an option,” a ranking Cheong Wa Dae official told a group of reporters on Wednesday.

The official also denied reports North Korea’s preference for a particular venue was raised in the discussion, saying there were no such mentions at all in the conversation.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the White House echoed Cheong Wa Dae’s remarks by confirming it has not been considering or inspecting Pyongyang as a viable option.

Local and Japanese media outlets on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources in Washington, claimed US and North Korea had differences in the summit venue preference. The US is eyeing the border village of Panmunjeom, while the North is pushing for its capital city of Pyongyang, they said.

Cheong Wa Dae’s explanation followed Trump’s statement Tuesday that the exact location and date of his meeting with Kim would be announced in “the next couple of days.” He has said that his first sit-down with Kim will take place within three to four weeks.

Speculation gaining currency at the moment is that Panmunjeom will serve as the meeting ground the Trump-Kim summit backed by Trump‘s ambiguous tweet -- “Would Peace House/Freedom House, on the Border of North & South Korea, be a more representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country? Just asking!”

Earlier this week, Trump said the Demilitarized Zone bisecting the two Koreas along with Singapore, were being considered as potential venues and indicated that he had relayed the message to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un via Moon.

Panmunjeom, located within DMZ, served as the venue for the historical inter-Korean summit held last week.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was cautious on confirming deliberations over the DMZ.

“The list has been narrowed, as the president said, and we expect to have an announcement on that soon,” she told reporters at a regular press briefing. 

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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