Sunday, June 30, 2019

Trump Meets North Korea’s Kim at DMZ
Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:04AM

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un (R) stands with US President Donald Trump south of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), on June 30, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

US President Donald Trump has met North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, in what was effectively an impromptu get-together.

During a brief outdoors meeting at the DMZ, which saw a flurry of flash photography and cameramen and bodyguards swirling around, Trump stepped over the demarcation line into North Korean territory and Kim into South Korean territory, marking historic firsts.

“This is my honor. I didn’t expect it. Stepping across that line was a great honor,” Trump said.

Kim, for his part, said, “President Trump just crossed… became first US president to visit our country. This is an expression of his willingness to eliminate the aggression of the past and open a new future.”

“We’re going to go and talk for a while,” the US president said before the two headed back into the South for follow-up discussions.

Inside the House of Freedom on the southern side, Trump told a throng of reporters that he would invite Kim over to the White House.

Kim said it would be a great honor if Trump visited Pyongyang.

“It’s a great day for the world,” the US president also said, while Kim said, “I am convinced our relationship will enable us to overcome barriers standing in the way.”

Trump and Moon then escorted Kim back to the North, with Trump saying, “This was a very historic day, a legendary day.”

Ahead of the meeting on Sunday, Trump was touring the DMZ accompanied by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

A day earlier, he joined a press conference with Moon, saying he had sent out a last-minute invitation to Kim for the meeting over Twitter toward the end of his trip to the South.

“I’ll be meeting with Chairman Kim. I look forward to it very much. I look forward to seeing him. We’ve developed a very good relationship,” Trump told the presser.

Against a backdrop of sheer hostility, marked by fiery exchanges between the two, Trump suddenly opened up to Kim last year and began voicing hope about the quality of potential relations between their countries.

The two heads of state met for the first time in Singapore last year on Washington’s initiative, with a view to enabling the North’s denuclearization.

They met for a second summit in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, in February. But that summit abruptly ended over disagreements on mutual compromises.

Subsequent working-level talks also effectively snagged.

However, a recent exchange of affable messages between the leaders of the two countries again raised hopes for the revival of talks.

Following his Sunday meeting with Kim, Trump said US sanctions on North Korea would remain in place, but he said they could be scaled back as part of renewed negotiations.

"I don't like sanctions being on this country... But at some point during the negotiations things can happen, and that's when we will be talking about sanctions," the US president told reporters.

The US has over the years imposed or spearheaded rounds of sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs.

Washington now demands that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before the sanctions are lifted; Pyongyang insists on a step-by-step approach that would include verifiable American commitment to end its massive military presence near its territorial waters.

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