Trump Meets Kim at DMZ, Crosses Into North Korea

by William Gallo


Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit North Korea, stepping across the border during a meeting at the demilitarized zone with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

After shaking hands with Kim at the Panmunjom border village, Trump walked across the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas. Kim and Trump then crossed the border back into South Korea.

“Good to see you again,” Kim told Trump. “I never expected to see you in this place.”

“Stepping across that line was a great honor,” said Trump, who invited Kim to the United States for another meeting.

Trump on Saturday had said the meeting would only last two minutes. However, Trump’s private talks with Kim lasted about 50 minutes, turning into an impromptu summit.

When Trump emerged from the meeting, he announced he and Kim had agreed to form teams to restart working level talks.

“They will meet over the next few weeks and they’re going to start a process and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Speed is not the object…we want a really comprehensive, good deal.”

It is the third meeting between Kim and Trump, following meetings in Singapore last June and in Vietnam in February. Though the DMZ summit raises hopes of revived nuclear talks, it’s not clear how much progress was made.

Nuclear progress?

Trump announced his negotiating team would continue to be led by Steve Biegun, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea. He said that North Korea “was also putting someone in charge who we know and who we like,” though he didn’t elaborate.

After the Singapore summit, Trump also announced his deputies would soon start working level negotiations. But those talks soon broke down over disagreements about how to pace sanctions relief with North Korea’s steps to dismantle its nuclear weapons.

“It’s where we were about 15 months ago,” says Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “One step forward, two steps back. But this is one step forward.”

“Given where we were last week, it’s not nothing,” he added.

The disagreements between the U.S. and North Korea remain vast. Not only has North Korea not provided a list of its nuclear sites, Washington and Pyongyang have not even agreed on what the idea of denuclearization means.

In recent weeks, North Korea expressed increasing levels of anger at the U.S. refusal to relax sanctions. Trump prefers a “big deal” under which North Korea commits to completely abandoning his nuclear weapons before relaxing any sanctions.

In their public comments Sunday, neither Trump nor Kim gave any indication of softening their stances.

“There was no sign that the two sides were prepared to address the underlying substantive problems, like differences over sanctions relief, that have made diplomacy so difficult,” says Mintaro Oba, a former State Department official and Korea specialist.

“Unless the working-level negotiators have a mandate to try new, more constructive approaches to these problems, it’s hard to see what they can achieve,” he adds.

U.S. officials have given mixed signals about whether they are open to an incremental approach, whereby Pyongyang would give up its nuclear program in stages in exchange for reciprocal steps by Washington.

Building trust or theatrics?

Trump visited the DMZ with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Though the three leaders did not make any public statement together, they briefly appeared together before Trump and Kim met for private talks.

At an earlier military briefing with Moon at a DMZ lookout point, Trump said the demilitarized zone used to be “very, very dangerous… but after our first summit, all the danger went away.”

Trump also defended his North Korea policy and blasted media that have questioned whether he should meet with Kim, given that talks with North Korea are stalled.

“I say that for the press, they have no appreciation for what we’ve done,” Trump said.

While many warn the latest summit risked normalizing friendly relations with a brutal dictator, South Korea’s President Moon said the meeting was an important step toward building trust with North Korea.

“We have taken one big step forward,” Moon said. “The…Korean people have been given hope thanks to today.”

But Bonnie Glaser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that for Trump, stepping inside North Korea might not signify any change in policy.

Trump, she said, delights in doing things no president has done before.”

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Photo “President Trump and Chairman Kim at the DMZ” by Dan Scavino.





VOA News

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2 Thoughts to “Trump Meets Kim at DMZ, Crosses Into North Korea”

  1. William R. Delzell

    If I could add more to what I said the other day, the Korean War was every bit as wrong and pointless as was the Vietnam War.

    It was based on false premises.

    First, if the Russian Communists had wanted to annex the entire Korean Peninsula, they could have easily done so between mid-August and early-September of 1945 (from the time that the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and the arrival of the first U.S. occupational troops to South Korea) with total impunity. Instead, they chose to honor a request by two U.S. colonels to stop their troops at the 38th Parallel. It would not have made any sense for them to wait until the summer of 1950 to launch any invasion.

    Second, the Soviets pulled out their ground troops from North Korean around Christmas of 1948, at least six months before the U.S. did likewise to South Korea. Both the U.S. and Soviets left advisers in the two Koreas. The Soviets pulled out their advisers in the summer of 1950 while the U.S. kept theirs and redeployed their ground troops to South Korea. The Soviets did not use any Russian troops during the 1950-1953 conflict.

    Third, the Soviets handled their occupation of North Korea differently from their occupations of Eastern Europe by allowing indigenous communists instead of Soviet officials reconstruct North Korea. In exchange of loyalty to the state, the average North Korean received such benefits as land reform, female suffrage, work safety regulations, free literacy/numeracy education, medical care, and the like. True, these reforms came at the price of loyalty to the new North Korean state, but at least they had redistributionist reforms. South Korea, in contrast under U.S. control, relied upon those Koreans who had collaborated with Nazis and Japanese (some of whom committed atrocities against U.S. POW’s in the Philippines and Guam during World War Two) to impose a regime that favored the old discredited Korean aristocracy at everybody else’s expense. The U.S. also forced the U.N. to okay a rigged election in 1948 of dictator Rhee.

    Third, if the Soviets were calling the shots of North Korea’s advance into South Korea, then why did they boycott the Security Council for any reason at all–in their case, the refusal to admit mainland China to the organization? If the Soviets had run the invasion, they would have kept their delegate present at the Council ready to veto any measures by the Truman Administration.

    Finally, the U.N. was merely a rubber stamp of the Truman Administration and was still controlled by countries that still had empires in Asia and Africa based on the sick notion of white racism.

    So, the U.S. was wrong to intervene into the Korean War.

  2. William R. Delzell

    If Trump can end this 74 year old war, more power to him. Despite the differences I have with Trump over virtually all other issues, this is one thing I can agree with him on if he is serious about ending U.S. involvement on the Korean Peninsula.