Posted on July 1, 2019
During a meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday, Mr Trump visited the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone and briefly crossed into North Korean territory. The act is the latest milestone in the year-long diplomatic talks between the two nations. “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.”
“I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future,” said Mr Kim speaking about the US President.
The North Korean leader also added he was “suprised” to have received Mr Trump’s invite to meet via a tweet on Saturday. Mr Trump was joined in the Freedom House conversation with Kim by his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers.
Peering into North Korea from Observation Post Ouellette, the US President told reporters before meeting Mr Kim that there has 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 “tremendous danger” but “after our first summit, all of the danger went away.”
The meeting marks a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders since talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February. 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 a half hour.
North Korea has yet to provide an accounting of its nuclear stockpile, let alone begin the process of dismantling its arsenal.
The meeting at the truce city of Panmunjom also represented a striking acknowledgement by Mr Trump of the authoritarian Mr Kim’s legitimacy over a nation with an abysmal human rights record. As he stood beside Mr Kim, Mr Trump told reporters he would invite the North Korean leader to the United States, 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”.