Where in world could these two meet?

Editorial | Mary Ma 14 Mar 2018

The Donald Trump-Kim Jong Un summit - if and when it happens - would surely be the biggest diplomatic event of 2018.

It wouldn't just be about a meeting the Tweeter-in-chief and "Fatty Kim III," but the outcome would impact the Asian region - if not the whole world.

Beijing is obviously very concerned about the development, since whatever happens at its doorstep will affect China's national defense and security. It's in Zhongnanhai's interest for the summit to succeed.

Why? So the Middle Kingdom can then ask Washington to withdraw US troops from South Korea and Japan, and press Seoul to dismantle the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system, whose radars can see deep into China to monitor military movements in the hinterland.

But ironically, it's also not in China's best interest for the Trump-Kim summit to be a total success, since Beijing could then be sidelined easily and lose its sway in the future. As of now, both Trump and Kim seem to be keen to go alone - mano a mano.

So, where would they meet?

Naturally, it would be in China's supreme interest to host the event in Beijing, where it can be guaranteed a role in the process, and maintain its dominance in the region. Remember, Beijing had previously hosted the six-party talks, involving North and South Korea, Japan, the United States, China and Russia, before Pyongyang pulled out in 2009.

The last place that Trump would like to go would be Vladimir Putin's Moscow, at a time when special counsel Robert Mueller is deepening his investigation into Trump campaign's connections with Russia.

Then, where else if not in China or Russia? It's most unlikely for Trump and Kim to meet in each other's capital. In fact, it would be virtually impossible, for Trump would be assured of a political backlash at home if he allowed Air Force One to land in Pyongyang. His secret service simply wouldn't allow it.

As for Washington, Kim has never left his own hermit country since coming to power, so it's highly doubtful he would be willing to travel all the way to America - even if Trump promised him a special treat at the world's largest Disneyland in Orlando, Florida.

South Korea is a possibility, and a summit there would reward President Moon Jae In for his efforts in bringing the two leaders together.

If so, Seoul would be the natural choice. However, if the capital is considered to be too political a center for the event, Jeju Island would be a nice alternative in view of its peaceful environment.

Or they could simply converge in Pyeongchang, where the thawing began with the Winter Olympics last month.

Would they meet in Panmunjom, the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas? That would be surprising since the buildings there are meant for the working staff - not for leaders who'd prefer a sense of grandiosity for the occasion.

Finally, could the summit be held outside Asia? Of course, it's possible. Remember Kim and his siblings had spent time studying in scenic Switzerland.

Perhaps, that neutral country would be Kim's top choice, since its regarded as his second home where he feels safe.

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