President Donald Trump ruled out the Korean Demilitarized Zone as the site of his upcoming talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite previously suggesting it would provide a fitting backdrop.
“It will not be” at the DMZ, Trump said in response to a question from reporters at the end of a meeting with his Cabinet on Wednesday.
Trump said he will announce the location of the summit “within three days.” With the DMZ out of the running, Singapore appears the most likely place for the historic meetings to convene as US officials had previously said the meeting would likely take place at either the DMZ or in Singapore. Officials had preferred the Southeast Asian city state for its neutrality and relative proximity to North Korea.
Trump delivered his remarks after newly minted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left North Korea with three Americans who had been held prisoner there. During his visit, Pompeo also finalized some of the details for the upcoming summit between Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump said he was “honored” by the release of the three Americans, whom he plans to welcome home at Joint Base Andrews at 2 a.m. ET on Thursday.
“It’ll be quite a scene and to me it’s very exciting because it represents something. It represents something very important to this country.”
The President struck an optimistic tone about the prospects of achieving a deal, but made clear that “everything could be scuttled” – a point he has repeatedly underscored as he looks to temper expectations about the prospects of brokering a deal.
“A lot of good things could happen, a lot of bad things can happen,” the President said.
Still, he emphasized his optimism at the prospects of reaching a historic agreement to denuclearize North Korea.
“I believe that both sides want to negotiate a deal. I believe we have a really good shot at it being successful.”
Before ruling out the DMZ as the location for the summit, Trump floated the possibility of meeting with Kim there, writing in a tweet that the location could be “a more Representative, Important and Lasting site than a third party country.”
“Just asking!” he wrote.
Trump later added that he believed the DMZ would be a fitting backdrop for a celebration should the summit be a success. His comments came after the meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, pictures of which were broadcast around the world.
Aides had cautioned the President that traveling there could appear like Trump was traveling to Kim’s doorstep.