Update 1:37 a.m. EST: President Trump announced on Saturday night that he will meet with Kim Jong-un on Sunday at the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula in what is expected to be a quick handshake.
“We’re going to the DMZ border, and I’ll be meeting with Chairman Kim,” Trump announced with South Korea President Moon Jae-in, saying the planned meeting would occur at about 1 p.m. local time in Seoul. “I look forward to it very much. I look forward to seeing him. We’ve developed a very good relationship,” said Trump. Moon will accompany Trump to the meet-and-greet.
President Trump, along with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, has just arrived in Seoul, South Korea, after attending the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
He is scheduled to have a two-day summit with President Moon. According to the White House, this visit is meant “to reaffirm a vital partnership that is essential to our economic and security interests” by “working toward the denuclearization of North Korea” and “advancing free, fair, reciprocal trade.”
In addition, President Trump is expected to potentially meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a third time, having met for the first time in Singapore and the second in Hanoi, Vietnam.
President Trump tweeted on June 28, “After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”
Hours later, top North Korean diplomat Choe Son-hui responded, “We see it as a very interesting suggestion, but we have not received an official proposal in this regard.”
Although there is no official confirmation as of yet, Choe’s statement underlined, “I am of the view that if the DPRK-U.S. summit meetings take place on the division line, as is intended by President Trump, it would serve as another meaningful occasion in further deepening the personal relations between the two leaders and advancing the bilateral relations.”
At the G20 summit, President Trump elaborated on this outreach to the North Korean leader: “I just put out a feeler because I don’t know where he is right now. He may not be in North Korea. If he’s there, we’ll see each other for two minutes. That’s all we can. But that will be fine.”
He also added, “If I didn’t become president … you’d be having war right now with North Korea.”
When asked if he would step across the border into North Korea, President Trump responded, “Sure I would. I would feel very comfortable doing that. I would have no problem.”
If President Trump does step foot in North Korea, he would be the first U.S. president in history to do so.
When President Trump landed in South Korea, he was asked again about the potential meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
He told reporters, “We’re going to see. We are working things out right now.” When asked if he has “heard anything” from North Korea, he responded, “We have. Yes.” He did not elaborate beyond that statement.
North Korean experts have praised President Trump’s outreach to North Korea.
Yonsei University Professor John Delury tweeted, “To get real progress toward denuclearization—not to mention lots of other things that matter—North Korea has to be made to feel less threatened, more secure, less under siege, more welcome in the world… One way to do that is for world leaders to treat North Korea’s leader in a friendly and welcoming way.”
He added, “It’s not just about denuclearization and it’s not all about a deal—important as those are. If Trump and Kim meet & can announce some kind of interim agreement, that’s great. If they meet and don’t, that’s ok too. If in the end, they don’t meet, it’s good that Trump offered to.”
Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst with Korea Risk Group, said that a meeting “likely will not yield any substantial outcome,” given that “there still appears to be a considerable gap between the two sides on denuclearization.”
“A DMZ meeting, however, would have a symbolic significance: it shows to the outside world that the two countries are on track to resuming nuclear dialogue,” Lee elaborated.