Trump becomes 1st sitting US president to step into NK, invites Kim to White House
The US will resume working-level dialogue with North Korea, US President Donald Trump said Sunday following his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Panmunjom.
Following his summit with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Trump flew to Panmunjom, where he met with Kim and stepped over the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas, becoming the first incumbent US president to enter North Korea.
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pose on the North Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line on Sunday. Yonhap
“We just had a very, very good meeting with Chairman Kim,” Trump said after an unexpectedly long meeting with Kim at the Freedom House, on the South Korean side of Panmunjom. He added that more historical developments will result from the meeting down the line, saying “this was a great day.”
What Trump earlier referred to as plans to “just shake hands quickly and say hello” turned into a 48 minute-long one-on-one with Kim. Trump, Kim and Moon entered the Freedom House at 3:54 p.m., and began a closed-door meeting at 4:04 p.m. after brief remarks to the media.
Trump also said that he is willing to invite Kim to the White House, and hinted for the first time that the issue of sanctions on North Korea could be raised.
“The sanctions remain but at some point during the negotiations things can happen,” Trump said.
The Trump administration had maintained that sanctions will remain until North Korea denuclearizes.
President Moon Jae-in, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un exchange words outside the Freedom House on the South Korean side of Panmunjom on Sunday. Yonhap
Trump also said a working-level team will be formed in the next two to three weeks, under the supervision of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Saying that the US already has a list of officials, Trump said that it will be led by US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun.
Trump also downplayed the significance of North Korea’s missile launches in May saying that they are “very small missiles, practically every country has” and added that long-range ballistic missiles are what concerns the US.
At the start of the meeting, Kim said that he was surprised by Trump’s offer and that he only became aware of a formal offer between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., refuting speculations that the meeting had been arranged in advance.
“The two countries that have long been enemies sharing a handshake of peace at a place that recalls a bad past itself is an expression of a changed present,” Kim said, saying that he would like to meet Trump again.
He added that the meeting could have a positive impact on the two countries actions in the future, and that the meeting was only possible due to the “excellent relationship” between himself and Trump.
“I believe that (my) excellent relationship with his excellency (Trump) will act as a mysterious power that overcomes obstacles and difficulties that will come to the tasks that need to be done.”
As for Moon, he said that the meeting represents a significant milestone in Korean Peninsular issues, describing Trump’s actions as “very bold and unique approach.”
“The peace process for achieving complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishing permanent peace has gone over a big hill,” Moon said, answering questions from the media after the Trump-Kim meeting.
Sunday’s meeting among the leaders of two Koreas and the US involved elements that were as dramatic as the way it was arranged.
In a manner similar to Moon’s summit with Kim in April last year, Trump and Kim met at the MDL, respectively on the South Korean and North Korean side.
After a brief greeting across the MDL, Trump and Kim walked several steps into North Korea, after which they came back to the South Korean side. Moon then joined Trump and Kim.
After a short talk, the three moved into the conference facility on the South’s side of Panmunjom.
Before Moon joined the gathering, Kim was quoted as saying “let’s resolve the past and move forward,” while Trump reiterated that significant progress had been made in North Korean issues.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)