Donald Trump Korea's Kim Jong Un meet at demilitarised border
01 July 2019
US President Donald Trump on Sunday met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, becoming the first US president to visit the demilitarised buffer zone between the two Koreas.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described Trump’s latest effort to mend fences with scary North Korean administration as unconventional and original.
“Say whatever else you want about President Trump’s relentless tornado diplomacy aimed at North Korea; it is at least original.
“Unconventional,” Pompeo added with a smile.
“He stares at these problems and says if we keep banging away the way we have been forever — the positions are staked out — the likelihood of success is almost nil,” he told The Washington Times. “Let’s try and come at this from a different direction.”
Trump’s latest meeting with North Korean President Kim Jong-un — whom he once dubbed “Little Rocket Man” — came about in typical Trump fashion.
The president was going to be in South Korea after Group of 20 meetings in Japan “and says, ‘I’m gonna be up there,’” Pompeo recounted. “From Pyongyang to the border is not that far. Maybe Chairman Kim will come meet me!”
This alone would be enough to make history. But Mr. Trump was not finished doing things differently.
“He decides the best way to communicate this is to the world,” Mr. Pompeo 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),” the president tweeted to his 61 million followers around the world at 7:51 a.m. Saturday. “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 tweeted.
Within an hour, Mr. Pompeo said, they heard from officials in North Korea.
“They responded saying, ‘Hey, what does this mean? What are you really thinking?’”
It was, Pompeo said, “20, maybe 30, hours between tweet and meeting.”
“Look, for decades now this has been a challenge,” Pompeo said. “For the last 12 years there’s been this real worry that they had a functional nuclear capability.”
But, he said, any optimism remains cloaked in caution and wariness of the pitfalls of negotiating with despots.
“There is always a risk,” Pompeo said. “The president always says it may not work. That is certainly the case even today.”
On Sunday morning also, Trump had no idea whether Kim would show up.
At a meeting with business leaders in the morning, Trump joked that since he had made such a public invitation, it would be easy for the North Korean dictator to humiliate him by not showing up for the handshake at the DMZ.
But, despite the uncertainty, Trump, Pompeo and a clutch of American officials loaded into a fleet of helicopters at around 2:00 pm and headed for the DMZ.
After landing just outside the DMZ, Trump went up to the observation point where US and South Korean soldiers keep an armed eye on North Korean soldiers across the border and spent some time talking to American and South Korean soldiers posted there.
“Then we learned that Chairman Kim had arrived,” Pompeo said.
Trump headed for the border. He walked up to the leader formerly known as Little Rocket Man and shook his hand. And then the two men walked across the border and into history, says the report.