How Trump’s meeting with Kim in North Korea went down


With the words, “Hey, I’m over here,” President Trump launched an improbable surprise get-together with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un in the demilitarized zone that made him the first sitting US president to cross into North Korea.

“I just want to say that this is my honor. I didn’t really expect it. We were in Japan for the G-20. We came over and I said, ‘Hey, I’m over here. I want to call up Chairman Kim.’ And we got to meet,” Trump said at a joint press conference Sunday after the two walked across the demarcation line that has separated the two countries for 66 years since the end of the Korean War.

“And stepping across that line was a great honor. A lot of progress has been made. A lot of friendships have been made. And this has been in particular a great friendship. So I just want to thank you. That was very quick notice, and I want to thank you,” Trump said.

Asked what he thought of the meeting, Kim said, “President Trump has just walked across the demarcation line. That made him the first US president to visit our country.

“I believe just looking at this action, this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future,” Kim said.

The two leaders also agreed to jump-start nuclear-arms talks that have been stalled since their second summit in Vietnam in February collapsed without an agreement.

“We are going to have teams, they are going to meet over the next weeks, they are going to start a process, and we will see what happens,” Trump told reporters after their meeting.

The president was in Osaka, Japan, for a meeting of the G-20 world leaders when he tweeted a last-minute invitation to Kim to meet at the “Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”

Kim quickly expressed interest and the meeting was on.

“It’s good to see you again,” Kim, dressed in a black Mao suit, told Trump as they shook hands at the concrete slab that marks the dividing line between North and South Korea. “I never expected to meet you at this place.”

Trump raised the idea of entering North Korea.

“Would you like me to step across?” he asked Kim through an interpreter.

“If your excellency would step forward, you will be the first US president to cross the border,” the North Korean leader said, gesturing for Trump to step over the short barrier.

Then Trump, with Kim at his side, took 20 steps into North Korea as photographers hustled to capture the historic moment.

“It’s a great day for a lot of people,” Trump said afterward. “It’s a great day, really, for the world, if you think about it. Beyond North Korea, South Korea, it’s a great day for the world and it’s an honor for me to be here.”

South Korea President Moon Jae-in said the meeting overcame a “big hurdle” on the way to peace.

“The two leaders have just presented such a big hope to the 80,000 Korean people as well as to the whole world,” he said. “So I do look forward to great progress being made in your subsequent dialogue.”

Pope Francis on Sunday praised both leaders.

“In the last few hours we saw in Korea a good example of the culture of encounter,” Francis told parishioners gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly address. “I salute the protagonists, with a prayer that such a significant gesture will be a further step on the road to peace, not only on that peninsula, but for the good of the entire world.”

Following their stroll across the border, Trump and Kim met for nearly an hour of talks in the Freedom House in the border town of Panmunjom.

Trump indicated he might ease some of the sanctions that his administration has slapped on North Korea as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign to encourage the country to denuclearize.

“The sanctions remain, but at some point during the negotiations things can happen,” Trump said.

Asked if he would eventually ask Kim to visit Washington, Trump said, “I would certainly extend the invite.”

He said he told Kim “at the right time, you’re going to come over,” adding that “at some point” it will happen.

Trump said he and Kim have developed a “great relationship” since the days he referred to the North Korean leader as “Little Rocketman.”

“We are in a much different place than we were two and a half years ago,” he said.