SEOUL: US President Donald Trump made a surprise offer on Saturday by inviting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to a meeting at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
“After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon),” said Trump in a tweet at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan. “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(?)!”
Trump confirmed his visit to the border during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying he “put out a feeler” to Kim to see if he would like to meet. “We’re going there,” Trump said, “If he’s there, we’ll see each other for two minutes.”
Trump’s offer to meet Kim represents a change from his previous opposition to meeting with the North Korean leader during his visit to South Korea on June 29 to 30. Pyongyang quickly responded to Trump’s request.
“We see it as a very interesting suggestion, but we have not received an official proposal in this regard,” said Choe Son Hui, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, in a statement issued by North Korea’s Central News Agency two hours after Trump’s tweet.
“If the US-North Korea meetings take place on the division line, as is intended by President Trump, it would serve as another meaningful occasion in deepening the personal relations between the two leaders and advancing bilateral relations.” Trump and Kim have touted their special relationship since their first summit in Singapore in June 2018, though their second summit at Hanoi in February collapsed.
North Korea suggested it would dismantle the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon in return for the relief of sanctions, but the US demanded an end to all other nuclear activities, such as a uranium enrichment program, before sanctions could be lifted.
Trump and Kim exchanged friendly letters following the stalled denuclearization process. However, North Korea’s testing of short-range guided missiles last month off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula has weakened the recovering relationship.
Shin Beom-cheol, an analyst at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said there was a chance Trump and Kim would meet.
“I think there’s a chance that Trump and Kim will meet at the DMZ on June 30 through the so-called New York channel,” he said. “There’s also a possibility that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will join the DMZ encounter.”
President Moon was optimistic about the prospects of more denuclearization dialogue.
During his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G20 summit Moon said: “Trump’s visit to South Korea will be an opportunity for the US-North Korea dialogue to be resumed, which will boost the Korea Peace Process.”
Moon also met Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss peace in the Korean peninsula.
In a statement, the Blue House said: “The leaders of South Korea and Russia shared assessments of security conditions surrounding the peninsula. They agreed that it is an important time for progress in the peaceful approach towards North Korea and substantive progress is needed in the resumption of US-North Korea talks.”
Moon also held a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who conveyed a message of commitment to the denuclearization process.
After returning to South Korea, Moon greeted Trump, who arrived at an American airbase in Osan for a dinner.
The two leaders are set to hold a summit today.