President Donald Trump became the first sitting president to step foot in North Korea on Sunday during an unprecedented last-minute meeting with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in the DMZ zone.
Following his trip to Japan for the G-20 summit, Trump was flying to Seoul to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and took advantage of the opportunity by offering to meet with the North Korean dictator, Fox News reported.
The extraordinary moment coming amid stalled denuclearization talks — the last time the two leaders met was in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February. Those talks failed to produce any significant progress.
“Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place,” a smiling Kim told Trump through an interpreter.
“Big moment… Tremendous progress,” Trump said.
“I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future,” Kim said of Trump’s surprise visit.
Trump said afterwards that it was “an honor” to enter into North Korea.
“It was an honor that you asked me to step over that line, and I was proud to step over that line,” he told Kim. “I thought you might do that, I wasn’t sure, but I was ready to do it, and I want to thank you, it was great, very historic.”
The two leaders reportedly met for just over an hour, and agreed to resume talks after taking in the Freedom House — the president would later tell reporters these talks will be led by special representative Steve Biegun.
The Wall Street Journal characterized this as an “unexpected burst of diplomacy.”
Trump was accompanied by the South Korean president, who praised the effort by the U.S. president.
“President Trump is the maker of peace in the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said.
He also said the historic meeting gives “hope to 80 million Korean people.”
“Through today’s meeting, the denuclearization as well as the establishment of peace, that process on the Korean Peninsula, I believe we have just overcome a hill in that overall process. So, the 80 million Korean people on the Korean peninsula have been given hope thanks to today,” Moon told reporters.
Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2019
Prior to meeting with Kim, Trump met with U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, and South Korean forces.
“We’re with you all the way,” he told the troops, according to Fox News.
The impromptu meeting was met with a critical eye by many in the media, who were quick to note the lack of any measurable progress in denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang.
In extending the invitation to meet with Jong Un via Twitter, Trump made it clear his intention was “just to shake his hand and hello.”
“After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” he tweeted.
After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019
As for the slow pace of denuclearization talks, President Trump said after meeting with the North Korean leader that he’s more interested in results.
“We just had a very, very good meeting with Chairman Kim and we’ve agreed that we’re going to designate a team, and the team will try and work out some deals,” the president said. “And again speed is not the object, we want to see if we can do a really comprehensive good deal.”
“We’re not looking for speed. We’re looking to get it right,” he added. “We’re on a very good path. This was a terrific day.”
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