OSAKA, Japan — President Trump said on Saturday that he would visit the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea on Sunday, and he publicly invited Kim Jong-un, the North’s iron-fisted leader, to meet him there for what would be their third get-together.
In a post on Twitter as he started the second of two days of meetings in Osaka, Japan, Mr. Trump said that during his next stop, in South Korea, he would be happy to greet Mr. Kim across the line that has divided Korea for nearly 75 years.
“I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon),” the tweet said. “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(?)!”
North Korea indicated on Saturday that it would welcome such a meeting.
“I consider this a very interesting suggestion, but we have not received any official proposal,” Choe Son-hui, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, said in a brief statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
“I believe that if a North Korea-U.S. summit is realized on the line dividing Korea, as President Trump wishes, it will become another opportunity to deepen the friendship that exists between the two heads of state and to improve relations of the two nations,” Ms. Choe said.
Mr. Trump’s tweet caught the diplomatic corps in Asia and even the president’s own advisers off balance, since the last meeting between the two leaders, in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February, ended in dramatic failure, and no further substantive talks have taken place. No serious preparations have been made for an encounter on Sunday.
But Mr. Trump likes to be unpredictable and has made clear repeatedly in recent days that he is eager to restart negotiations aimed at persuading North Korea to eliminate its nuclear arsenal. He told reporters that Saturday morning’s tweet was spontaneous. “I just thought of it this morning,” he said. “We’ll be there, and I just put out a feeler.”
And yet, in reality, he had been toying with the idea for days. The Hill, a Capitol Hill news organization, reported on Saturday after his tweet that Mr. Trump had actually signaled his interest in the idea during an interview on Monday, saying he “might” try to meet with Mr. Kim during an already planned but secret trip to the DMZ. The White House asked that his comment not be reported because of security concerns.
Mr. Trump is scheduled to fly to Seoul late Saturday afternoon and have dinner with President Moon Jae-in, a strong proponent of diplomacy with North Korea. His DMZ visit would take place on Sunday before he flies back to Washington.
Mr. Moon’s office issued a statement supporting more contact with Mr. Kim without confirming any meeting this weekend. “Nothing has been decided, but our position remains unchanged that we want dialogue to happen between North Korea and the U.S.,” the statement said.
Experts on the region said Mr. Trump’s flair for theater was not a substitute for a serious negotiation strategy. “It’s like ‘The Bachelor,’” said Michael Green, who was President George W. Bush’s Asia adviser. “But North Korea has stated clearly it will only denuclearize part of its weapons program, and this won’t change any of that even if they do shake hands.”
Choe Sang-hun contributed reporting from Seoul, South Korea.
Source: Read Full Article