Following the success of the Singapore Summit (and the slightly less successful Hanoi Summit), there has been no small amount of speculation about a third Trump Kim summit taking place in the not-so-distant future. In fact, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has commented that he would like to see one happen before the end of the year. The million-dollar question, however, is where?
In the choice of Singapore and Vietnam, we can see a pattern emerging in what would constitute ideal locations for a Trump Kim summit: politically neutral (meaning not seen as US-influenced or sympathetic to the DPRK) and located close enough to the DPRK to satisfy their logistics and security concerns.
If the next summit location were to follow this pattern then we could immediately exclude both South Korea and Japan (both have strong ties with the US) and China and Russia (both sympathetic to/allies of the DPRK). There was a country that might have made an ideal location: Malaysia, which previously boasted a great diplomatic relationship with the DPRK (Malaysians used to enjoy visa-free entry into North Korea). Alas, the assassination of Kim Jong Nam on Malaysian soil soured the relationship somewhat.
The options are therefore narrowed when it comes to potential picks for a third Trump Kim summit. Luckily, this makes our job in speculating somewhat easier!
Mongolia checks a lot of the right boxes: it’s politically neutral and has good trade and diplomatic ties with the DPRK. Geographically, too, it’s convenient for the North Koreans: a train could be taken from Pyongyang to Beijing, and from Beijing to Ulan Bator. This would be faster than the previous journey to Hanoi.
Cambodia is also not outside the realms of possibility. The country’s former king, Sihanouk, had close ties to the DPRK, and spent many years in exile at a house he kept in Pyongyang. Phnom Penh still has strong relations with both Washington and Pyongyang, and so would make for a strong pick. The only drawback is its location; it would take Kim longer to get to Cambodia than to Vietnam, and that was already a pretty hefty journey.
This is all idle speculation right now, of course, and a third Trump Kim summit may never even happen at all. But a bit of knockabout speculation never hurt anyone!.