Donald Trump says he wants to meet Kim Jong-un at DMZ 'just to shake his hand and say hello'

Meeting would be third between the two leaders if it goes ahead

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Friday 28 June 2019 20:26 BST
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Donald Trump says he received a beautiful letter from North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un

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Donald Trump has said he wants to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the DMZ to shake his hand.

The US president, who has been in Japan attending the G20 summit, had indicated he may visit the the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that was established between North and South Korea, when he visits South Korea this weekend.

Reports suggested the White House had been working to arrange a visit to the strip, established in 1953 at the end of hostilities in the Korean War.

Mr Trump had previously sought to visit the DMZ in 2017, but was unable to because of bad weather.

Before leaving Washington for the G20, he told The Hill: “I’m gonna be there for a day. I understand that’s one of the places I’ll be visiting.”

Tweeting before he left Japan for South Korea, the president made the strange offer to Mr Kim, for what would be their third meeting.

“After some very important meetings, including my meeting with president Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with president Moon),” he tweeted on Saturday morning in Osaka.

He added: “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(?)!”

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If the talks were to proceed, it would be the third meeting between the US and North Korean leaders. Mr Trump and Mr Kim first held talks in Singapore last June where they agreed to work towards peace on the Korean peninsula, followed by a second round of talks in Vietnam in February that failed to secure any new progress.

To the consternation of some of his critics, who say he should not be rewarding a dictator with an appalling human rights record, Mr Trump has repeatedly made clear his willingness to meet Mr Kim, who worked hard to achieve a nuclear weapon before pivoting towards diplomacy.

Mr Trump is scheduled to fly to South Korea later on Saturday after he concludes G20 meetings. He is due to visit Seoul for an overnight stay and meetings on Sunday with South president Moon Jae-in. North Korea’s state media reported a week ago that Mr Kim had received a letter from Mr Trump with “excellent content”, without providing more details.

Substantive talks between the two nations have largely broken down since then, as the North has baulked at Mr Trump’s insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from international sanctions

Every president since Ronald Reagan has visited the 1953 armistice line, except for George HW Bush, who visited when he was vice president.

The show of bravado and support for one of America’s closest military allies has evolved over the years to include binoculars and bomber jackets.

As he left the White House for Asia earlier this week, Mr Trump was asked whether he would meet with Mr Kim while he is in the region.

He replied: “I’ll be meeting with a lot of other people…but I may be speaking to him in a different form.”

Such trips to the demilitarised zone, the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea, are usually undertaken under heavy security and the utmost secrecy.

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