The list of countries which might potentially host the high profile meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been narrowed down to two contenders: Mongolia and Singapore.
Citing government sources, a South Korean newspaper reported on Wednesday (Apr 25) that the two countries had made the shortlist of locations for the widely anticipated summit after other nations such as Switzerland and Sweden were excluded.
In the report by Korea JoonAng Daily, the English edition of JoonAng Ilbo, the source said: “European countries such as Switzerland and Sweden were mentioned up until now, but they have been excluded because it was determined to be difficult for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to physically get there.”
“The United States and North Korea are holding final negotiations to choose between Singapore and Mongolia.”
According to The Korea Times, Kim’s inability to physically meet in Europe is mainly due to his private jet’s limited range.
Codenamed Chanmae-1, his jet – reportedly made in the 1970s – is only capable of flying 5,000km non-stop, far from being enough to reach Stockholm or Zurich which are nearly 7,200km and 8,500km away from Pyongyang respectively.
The government source said the decision could be reached as early as this week. But at Pyongyang’s request, an official announcement would likely only be made once details including the date and agenda are finalised.
As of now, Trump and Kim are expected to meet in May or June.
It would be a tough challenge for the two leaders to come to a mutually agreeable decision on location nonetheless.
“North Korea hasn’t let go of its attachment to holding the summit in Pyongyang, but in the case where the United States doesn’t want this at all, it has come around to the idea of reviewing Mongolia as a location. North Korea has the notion that Mongolia is a friendly country,” the source said.
Considering the fact that Kim can travel there by rail on his bulletproof train, Mongolia is all the more desirable to North Korea. Mongolia had also previously hosted talks involving current North Korean officials and academics from Western countries.
But the US contested the notion, saying that infrastructure is inadequate in the Ulan Bator capital and is inclined to have the summit in Singapore where there is also better security.
To the US and North Korea, Singapore is deemed a relatively neutral country, housing both North Korean and American embassies. The country is also within range of the Chanmae-1, at a distance of 4,700km from Pyongyang.
The government source said the US had excluded countries with possible personal interests like South Korea, Japan and China, subsequently considering Southeast Asian countries that met its various conditions.
“Which is why Singapore was selected,” the source said.