Don­ald Trump first US Pres­i­dent to set foot in North Korea

● ‘Two-minute meet­ing’ with Kim be­comes half-hour of pri­vate talks

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By MAR­GARET NEIGH­BOUR

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump be­came the first sit­ting Amer­i­can leader to step into North Korea yes­ter­day as he met leader Kim Jong Un at the heav­ily for­ti­fied Demil­i­ta­rized Zone for an 80-minute meet­ing af­ter ex­tend­ing a last-minute in­vi­ta­tion to him on Twit­ter.

Trump be­came the first US pres­i­dent to visit North Korea dur­ing a meet­ing with Kim Jong Un at the heav­ily for­ti­fied demil­i­tarised zone amid moves to re­vive talks on the pariah na­tion’s nuclear pro­gramme.

The meet­ing, an­other his­toric first in the year-long rap­proche­ment be­tween the two na­tions, marked a re­turn to face-to-face con­tact be­tween the lead­ers since talks broke down dur­ing a sum­mit in Viet­nam in Fe­bru­ary.

But it did lit­tle to erase doubts that re­main about the fu­ture of the ne­go­ti­a­tions and the North’s will­ing­ness to give up its stock­pile of nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump’s brief crossing into North Korean ter­ri­tory marked the lat­est mile­stone in two years of roller­coaster diplo­macy be­tween the two na­tions, as per­sonal taunts of “lit­tle rocket man” and threats to de­stroy the other have been ush­ered out by on-again, offa­gain talks, pro­fes­sions of love and flow­ery let­ters.

“I was proud to step over the line,” Mr Trump told Mr Kim as they met in a build­ing known as Free­dom House on the South Korean side of the vil­lage.

“It is a great day for the world.”

Mr Kim hailed the mo­ment, say­ing of Mr Trump: “I be­lieve this is an ex­pres­sion of his will­ing­ness to elim­i­nate all the un­for­tu­nate past and open a new fu­ture.”

He added that he was “sur­prised” when Mr Trump in­vited him to meet by a tweet on Satur­day.

What was orig­i­nally ex­pected to be a brief ex­change of pleas­antries over the raised line of con­crete mark­ing the border be­tween North and South – Mr Trump had said it would last “two min­utes” – turned into pri­vate talks stretch­ing be­yond half an hour.

Ev­ery pres­i­dent since Ron­don­ald ald Rea­gan has vis­ited the 1953 armistice line, ex­cept for Ge­orge HW Bush, who went there when he was vice pres­i­dent. Mr Trump avoided the “binoc­u­lar and bomber jacket” out­fit worn by his pre­de­ces­sors on such vis­its, opt­ing in­stead for a busi­ness suit.

He­said be­fore meet­ing Mr Kim that there had been “tremen­dous” im­prove­ment since his first meet­ing with the North’s leader in Sin­ga­pore last year.

Mr Trump claimed the sit­u­a­tion used to be marked by “trethe men­dous dan­ger” but “af­ter our first sum­mit, all of the dan­ger went away”.

How­ever, North Korea has yet to pro­vide an ac­count­ing of its nuclear stock­pile, let alone be­gin dis­man­tling its ar­se­nal.

The meet­ing at the truce city of Pan­munjom also rep­re­sented an ac­knowl­edg­ment by Mr Trumpofthe­au­thor­i­tar­i­anmr Kim’s le­git­i­macy over a na­tion with an abysmal hu­man rights record.

As he stood beside Mr Kim, Mr Trump said he would in­vite the North Korean leader to US, po­ten­tially even to the White House.

“I would in­vite him right now,” Mr Trump said.

Mr Kim, speak­ing through a trans­la­tor, re­cip­ro­cated that it would be an “hon­our” to in­vite Mr Trump to the North Korean cap­i­tal of Py­ongyang “at the right time”.

Mr Trump’s sum­mit with Mr Kim in Viet­nam this year col­lapsed with­out an agree­ment for de­nu­cle­aris­ing the Korean Penin­sula.

He be­came the first sit­ting US pres­i­dent to meet the leader of the iso­lated na­tion last year, when they signed an agree­ment in Sin­ga­pore to bring the North to­ward de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion.

Sub­stan­tive talks be­tween the na­tions have largely bro­ken down since the Viet­nam sum­mit.

The North has balked at Mr Trump’s in­sis­tence that it give up its weapons be­fore it sees re­lief from crush­ing in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions.

The US has said the North must sub­mit to “com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion” be­fore sanc­tions are lifted.

0 US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in­side the demil­i­tarised zone sep­a­rat­ing South and North Korea yes­ter­day

0 Trump and Ivanka Trump speak to mil­i­tary per­son­nel in S Korea

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