President Donald Trump became the first U.S. president to step into North Korea on Sunday afternoon, briefly crossing into the country at the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea to meet with leader Kim Jong Un.
After shaking hands with Kim, Trump told reporters that it “was a great honor” to step “across that line.”
Kim told Trump that it was “good to see you again,” CNN reported.
“I didn’t expect to meet you at this place,” Kim added.
Following their historic photo op, Trump and Kim sat down for a closed-door meeting on the South Korean side of the DMZ.
The two leaders agreed during their tête-à-tête to restart nuclear talks, Trump later said, adding that his chat with Kim had been “very, very good.”
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On Saturday, Trump had issued ― via Twitter ― a last-minute invitation to Kim for a possible meeting at the DMZ.
“I will be leaving Japan for South Korea,” the president tweeted. “While there, if Chairman Kim … sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”
Kim said on Sunday that he’d been “very surprised” by the Twitter invitation.
“I was very surprised to hear about your offer on the tweet and only late in the afternoon I was able to confirm your invitation,” Kim told Trump, adding that the impromptu meeting had only been possible thanks to his “excellent relationship” with Trump.
“If it wasn’t for that good relationship, we would not have been able to make this sudden meeting possible,” Kim said.
The DMZ meeting had been expected to be brief, with Trump predicting that it might “only be a handshake” ― but the two leaders ended up speaking privately for about 50 minutes inside the Freedom House on the South Korean side of the DMZ.
Following the meeting, Trump said he and Kim had agreed to restart nuclear talks — after negotiations between the two countries stalled earlier this year.
The president said negotiators from the two countries would begin meetings in the coming weeks.
“Speed is not the object, we want to see if we can do a really comprehensive, good deal,” Trump said.
Experts warned Sunday that Trump and Kim’s DMZ encounter should be seen as nothing more than a “photo op” unless it results in a “verifiable agreement.”
“I’m not against diplomacy but this is Reality TV,” Victor Cha, a Korea expert who served on former President George W. Bush’s National Security Council, wrote on Twitter.
″It’s only ‘historic’ if it leads to denuke negotiations, a verifiable agreement and a peace treaty. Otherwise it’s just some nice pics and pageantry,” Cha added.