South Korean news outlets say the anticipated summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will likely take place next month in Singapore. The Chosun Ilbo newspaper and the Yonhap news agency are quoting unnamed sources that the U.S. and North Korea have agreed the meeting will take place in the city-state in the third week of June, to avoid conflicts with the Group of Seven (G-7) summit to be held in Canada on June 8-9, which Trump will attend.
Trump told reporters Friday that the two sides “now have a date and we have a location.” He has previously said the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Koreas might be a good venue. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has warned Washington not to misread North Korea’s overtures of peace as a sign of weakness. “The U.S. is deliberately provoking the DPRK at the time when the situation on the Korean Peninsula is moving toward peace and reconciliation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told the North Korean state media Sunday. DPRK — the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — is the North’s formal name.
The official was referring to U.S. claims that Trump’s policy of maximum political pressure and sanctions are what drove the North to the negotiating table. The criticism comes after last month’s historic meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. At that meeting, Kim promised to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and to move North Korea’s clocks ahead by 30 minutes to correspond with the South Korean time zone, a pledge he fulfilled Saturday.
But the North Korean spokesman said Sunday that movement of U.S. military assets in the region and talk of human rights violations also have hurt the peace process. “This act cannot be construed otherwise than a dangerous attempt to ruin the hard-won atmosphere of dialogue and bring the situation back to square one,” he said.
Before Trump meets with Kim, Washington is hoping to gain the release of three Korean-Americans accused of anti-state activities. Trump hinted that the release of Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song and Tony Kim was in the offing. There was no sign of an imminent release, though the men have reportedly been moved to the North Korean capital.
The White House, meanwhile, has announced a separate meeting between Trump and Moon at the White House on May 22 to “continue their close coordination on developments regarding the Korean Peninsula.”