Trump meets Kim Jong-un, becomes first US leader to step into North Korean territory with this historic meeting
The North Korean dictator called Trump 'courageous' for doing so after the pair greeted each other and agreed to revive nuclear talks.
President Donald Trump took a historic walk from the Demilitarized Zone into the North Korean territory to start a meeting with the Pyongyang director Kim Jong-un. The Korean dictator called Trump "courageous" for doing so after the pair greeted each other with a handshake on Sunday and agreed to revive denuclearization talks. The Republican, in turn, praised the "power" of Kim's voice, and later denounced former president Barack Obama and blamed the media for downplaying his own accomplishments.
"This has a lot of significance because it means that we want to bring an end to the unpleasant past and try to create a new future, so it's a very courageous and determined act," Kim told Trump after their handshake. "You're the first US president to cross this line," he added.
The US president, during the key moment, slowly approached the concrete barrier in front of him as Kim walked towards him. The leaders shook hands above the low concrete barrier, which marks the line of demarcation between South and North Korea. After asking if Kim wanted him to cross, Trump took 10 steps into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South for talks at Freedom House, where they agreed to revive the stalled negotiations.
The spectacle marked the latest milestone in two years of roller-coaster diplomacy between the two nations. Personal taunts of "Little Rocket Man" (by Trump) and "mentally deranged US dotard" (by Kim) and threats to destroy one another have given way to on-again, off-again talks, professions of love and flowery letters.
"I was proud to step over the line," Trump told Kim as they met on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom. "It is a great day for the world."
"Good to see you again. I never expected to meet you at this place," Kim told Trump after the duo last met during a summit in Hanoi this year. "You're the first US president to cross this line." Reports state that Trump, at that moment, also invited the North Korean supreme leader to visit the US. The news was later confirmed by Trump, adding that the visit would occur "at the right time" but also "any time" Kim wanted.
"I said you, know what, at the right time, you’re going to come over. We’re going to go over there," Trump said while addressing reporters. "I said any time he wants to do it." While mentioning the US sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, Trump said: "I’m looking forward to taking them off. At some point during the negotiation, things can happen."
"You see the level of relationship as opposed to the way I came into office - when I came into office it was a fiery mess," the president added.
When the Republican was asked about the status of Kim's nuclear negotiators, after reports from South Korea that five of the top Pyongyang diplomats had been executed after their failure to reach a deal in February, Trump said that he knows that the top negotiator is alive.
"I know for a fact he is [alive]. I would hope the rest are too," he said.
With AP inputs.