President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met and shook hands Sunday at the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
In a meeting apparently arranged after Trump invited Kim on Twitter on Saturday, Trump walked a short distance into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South, where each made statements to the press.
It was their first face-to-face meeting since talks broke down during a summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February.
The encounter had initially been described as a brief greeting but Trump and Kim ended up meeting for about 50 minutes at Freedom House, on the South Korean side.
Trump had arrived at the DMZ shortly before 2 a.m. Eastern U.S. time, accompanied by South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
But before the meeting with Kim was expected to begin, Trump met with some military members and others.
“We’re with you all the way,” Trump told the service members, who included both U.S. troops stationed in South Korea as well as South Korean forces.
At about 2:40 a.m. ET, the two leaders spotted one another from a short distance apart, then walked toward one another.
Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot inside North Korea.
“I was proud to step over the line,” Trump told Kim later, inside the Freedom House on the South Korea side, according to the Associated Press. “It is a great day for the world.”
“I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future,” Kim said of Trump, according to the AP. He added that he was “surprised” when Trump extended the invitation on Saturday.
Earlier Sunday, Moon told reporters that Kim had agreed to meet with Trump. The confirmation came at a joint news conference between Moon and Trump following their brief meeting in Seoul.
“President Trump is the maker of peace in the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in announcing the plan.
While taking in the view from Observation Post Ouellette at the DMZ before meeting with Kim, Trump told reporters that there has been “tremendous” improvement in U.S.-North Korea relations since the first summit with Kim in Singapore last June.
Later, Trump said he would invite Kim to visit the U.S., and possibly the White House.
“I would invite him right now,” Trump said.
Kim, speaking through a translator, said he would invite Trump to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, “at the right time.”
During their meeting in Freedom House, the two agreed to revive the stalled negotiations.
Trump downplayed the significance of the meeting, saying it would be “just a step” in trying to repair the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea and move toward a U.S. goal of nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula.
Trump was in South Korea visiting Moon after attending the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, where he met with the leaders of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, among others.
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