Donald Trump first US President to set foot in North Korea
● ‘Two-minute meeting’ with Kim becomes half-hour of private talks
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