US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the peninsula on Sunday for an impromptu summit.
The expected encounter, only suggested a day earlier by Trump on Twitter, comes with negotiations over the North’s nuclear programme in stalemate since the leaders’ last summit in Vietnam in February.
The spectacle took take place on the line that marks where the two countries and their allies fought each other to a standstill in the 1950-53 Korean War.
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Nearly seven decades later, negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington over the North’s nuclear arsenal are at a deadlock.
“We’re going to the DMZ border and I’ll be meeting with Chairman Kim,” Trump told reporters in Seoul. “I look forward to it very much.” The two would “just shake hands quickly and say hello because we haven’t seen each other since Vietnam”, he added.
Their first summit took place in a blaze of publicity in Singapore last year but produced a vaguely-worded pledge about denuclearisation, and a second meeting in Vietnam in February intended to put flesh on those bones broke up without agreement.
Contact between the two sides has since been minimal — with Pyongyang issuing frequent criticisms of the US position — but the two leaders have exchanged a series of letters and Trump turned to Twitter on Saturday to issue his offer.
“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 wrote from from Osaka in Japan, where he was attending a G20 summit before flying to Seoul.
In an unusually fast and public response, within hours of Trump’s tweet the North’s official KCNA news agency quoted Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui as saying the offer was “a very interesting suggestion”.
Trump later said he would have “no problem” stepping into the North with Kim — in what would be a dramatic re-enactment of the extraordinary scene last year when the young leader invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in to walk over the Military Demarcation Line that divides the Koreas.
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