US president Donald Trump will meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the North and South on Sunday, a day after he expressed willingness to cross the border for what would be a history-making photo opportunity.
South Korean president Moon Jae-in announced that Mr Kim accepted Mr Trump’s invitation to meet when the US president visits the heavily fortified site at the Korean border village of Panmunjom.
Mr Moon praised the two leaders for “being so brave” to hold the meeting and said: “I hope President Trump will go down in history as the president who achieves peace on Korean Peninsula.”
Mr Trump said he looked forward to meeting with Mr Kim, but sought to tamp down expectations, predicting it would be “very short”.
“Virtually a handshake, but that’s OK. A handshake means a lot,” he said.
After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). 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(?)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019
Officials spent Sunday morning working out logistical and security details, Mr Trump said during an earlier appearance with Mr Moon.
A day earlier North Korea responded by calling the offer a “very interesting suggestion”.
Presidential visits to the DMZ are traditionally carefully guarded secrets for security reasons.
Before arriving in Seoul, Mr Trump said at a news conference in Japan that he would “feel very comfortable” crossing the border into North Korea if Mr Kim showed up, saying he would “have no problem” becoming the first US president to step into North Korea.
His comments followed hours after Mr Trump asked for Mr Kim to meet him 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(?)!” he tweeted.
I hope President Trump will go down in history as the president who achieves peace on Korean PeninsulaMoon Jae-in
Meeting with Mr Trump at South Korea’s presidential Blue House on Sunday, Mr Moon said when he saw Trump’s invitation to Mr Kim, “I could really feel that the flower of peace was truly blossoming on the Korean peninsula.”
Mr Trump’s summit with Mr Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement for denuclearising the Korean Peninsula.
He became the first sitting US president to meet with the leader of the isolated nation last year, when they signed an agreement in Singapore to bring the North toward denuclearisation.
Substantive talks between the nations have largely broken down since then.
The North has resisted Mr Trump’s insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from crushing international sanctions.
Still, Mr Trump has sought to praise Mr Kim, who oversees an authoritarian government, in hopes of keeping the prospects of a deal alive, and the two have traded flowery letters in recent weeks.
Every president since Ronald Reagan has visited the 1953 armistice line, except for George HW Bush, who visited when he was vice president.