US President Donald Trump has confirmed he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un briefly Sunday at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) which divides the two Korean nations.
The unprecedented meeting comes after Trump tweeted an apparently spontaneous invitation to Kim to join him on his visit.
In a joint press conference in Seoul, South Korea President Moon Jae-in confirmed they would have a “handshake for peace” at the border.
During the press meet, Trump said he was “looking forward to it very much … he understands me and I think I maybe understand him.”
“We have a very good relationship, the two of us,” he added, referring to Kim Jong-un.
“I want to say hello. Let’s see what happens … It will be very short but that’s OK. A handshake means a lot.”
With Trump by his side at the bilateral talks, Moon said the meeting represented a “big hope to everyone”. Even a handshake and brief encounter between Trump and Kim “would be a significant milestone in the peace process on the Korean peninsula”, he said.
However, North Korea has not yet commented.
But in a quick, public response, within hours of Trump’s tweet the North’s official KCNA news agency quoted the vice foreign minister, Choe Son-hui, as saying the offer was “a very interesting suggestion”, without any official confirmation from Kim’s side.
This would be the third meeting between Trump and Kim.
Moon said the leaders would meet in Panmunjom, the village inside the border zone, where negotiations between South and North Korea have often taken place.
The meeting would be a re-enactment of the extraordinary sight last year when Kim invited Moon to walk over the military demarcation bordering the two Koreas.
The DMZ (demilitarised zone) is the thin strip of land which divides North and South Korea. Till now, no sitting US president has ever been inside it.
Negotiations with North Korea, to prompt it to abandon its controversial nuclear programme, reached a peak last year when Trump and Kim had a historic meeting in Singapore.
They both had committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula, but without clarifying the details exactly.
At their second meeting in Hanoi was expected to produce some concrete agreement about N Korea abandoning its nuclear programme in exchange for some of the tight sanctions against it being lifted.
it was hoped their second meeting, in Hanoi in February, would make some concrete agreement about North Korea handing over its nuclear programme in exchange for lifting of some of the tight sanctions against it.
Unfortunately, the talks ended without a deal as the two sides failed to agree on the pace at which sanctions should be eased.
The negotiations have been halted since then — with Pyongyang criticising the US position – although Kim and Trump have exchanged letters in recent weeks.
On Sunday morning, Trump also lauded the trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 in Japan on Saturday as “far better than expected”. He has vowed to halt further tariffs on Chinese exports as negotiations continue.
(inputs from BBC)