After days of speculation — and optimistic statements by the two leaders — President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met and shook hands on Sunday June 30, at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea.
It was their first face-to-face meeting since an ill-fated summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, and the first time a sitting US President stepped across the DMZ to the North Korean side.
President Trump arrived at the DMZ shortly before 2 a.m. Eastern US time, accompanied by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. They were shown awaiting Kim’s arrival, along with South Korean military members and other officials.
But before the meeting with Kim was expected to begin, Trump met with some military members and others and was expected to review some relics from the Korean War era.
“We’re with you all the way,” Trump told the service members, who included both US troops stationed in South Korea as well as South Korean forces.
Finally around 2:40 a.m. ET, the two leaders spotted one another from a short distance apart, then walked toward one another. They met, shook hands, and then briefly walked across the border into North Korea before crossing back to the DMZ.
A Historic Step
“I was proud to step over the line,” Trump told Kim later, inside the Freedom House on the South Korea side, according to the Associated Press. “It is a great day for the world.”
Trump crossing over onto the North Korean side was a historic “first step” both literally and figuratively. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot inside the Hermit Kingdom, and hopefully this exchange also represents a “first step” in getting Kim back to the negotiating table on denuclearization.
According to the Associated Press, Kim appeared pleased by the meeting.
“I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future,” Kim said of Trump, according to the AP. He added that he was “surprised” when Trump extended the invitation on Saturday.
Earlier, while taking in the view from Observation Post Ouellette at the DMZ before meeting with Kim, Trump told reporters that there has been “tremendous” improvement in U.S.-North Korea relations since the first summit with Kim in Singapore last June.
Later, Trump said he would invite Kim to visit the U.S., and possibly the White House.
“I would invite him right now,” Trump said, according to the AP.
Kim, speaking through a translator, said he would invite Trump to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, “at the right time.”