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At DMZ, step into history for Trump as he offers hand to Kim

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    President Donald Trump walks to the North Korean side of the border with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, Sunday, June 30, 2019, in North Korea. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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    President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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    President Donald Trump, left, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the North Korean side of the border at the village of Panmunjom in Demilitarized Zone, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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    President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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    President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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    President Donald Trump talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and views North Korea from the Korean Demilitarized Zone from Observation Post Ouellette at Camp Bonifas in South Korea, Sunday, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Published July 01. 2019 08:40AM

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) — With wide grins and a historic handshake, President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone on Sunday and agreed to revive talks on the pariah nation’s nuclear program. Trump, pressing his bid for a legacy-defining deal, became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea.

What was intended to be an impromptu exchange of pleasantries turned into a 50-minute meeting, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations. It marked a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders after talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February. Significant doubts remain, though, about the future of the negotiations and the North’s willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons .

The border encounter was a made-for television moment. The men strode toward one another from opposite sides of the Joint Security Area and shook hands over the raised patch of concrete at the Military Demarcation Line as cameras clicked and photographers jostled to capture the scene.

After asking if Kim wanted him to cross, Trump took 10 steps into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South for talks at Freedom House, where they agreed to revive the stalled negotiations.

The spectacle marked the latest milestone in two years of roller-coaster diplomacy between the two nations. Personal taunts of “Little Rocket Man” (by Trump) and “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” (by Kim) and threats to destroy one other have given way to on-again, off-again talks, professions of love and flowery letters.

“I was proud to step over the line,” Trump told Kim as they met in on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom. “It is a great day for the world.”

Kim hailed the moment, saying of Trump, “I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future.” Kim added that he was “surprised” when Trump issued an unorthodox meeting invitation by tweet on Saturday.

As he left South Korea on his flight to Washington, Trump tweeted that he had “a wonderful meeting” with Kim. “Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!”

Trump had predicted the two would greet one another for about “two minutes,” but they ended up spending more than an hour together. The president was joined in the Freedom House conversation with Kim by his daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both senior White House advisers.

Substantive talks between the countries had largely broken down after the last Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi, which ended early when the leaders hit an impasse.

The North has balked at Trump’s insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from crushing international sanctions. The U.S. has said the North must submit to “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” before sanctions are lifted.

As he announced the resumptions of talks, Trump told reporters “we’re not looking for speed. We’re looking to get it right.”

He added that economic sanctions on the North would remain. But he seemed to move off the administration’s previous rejection of scaling back sanctions in return for piecemeal North Korean concessions, saying, “At some point during the negotiation things can happen.”

Peering into North Korea from atop Observation Post Ouellette, Trump told reporters before he greeted Kim that there had been “tremendous” improvement since his first meeting with the North’s leader in Singapore last year.

Trump claimed the situation used to be marked by “tremendous danger” but “after our first summit, all of the danger went away.”

But the North has yet to provide an accounting of its nuclear stockpile, let alone begin the process of dismantling its arsenal.

The latest meeting, with the U.S. president coming to Kim, represented a striking acknowledgement by Trump of the authoritarian Kim’s legitimacy over a nation with an abysmal human rights record. Kim is suspected of having ordered the killing of his half brother through a plot using a nerve agent at a Malaysian airport in 2017. Meantime, the United Nations said in May that about 10 million people in North Korea are suffering from “severe food shortages” after the North had one of the worst harvests in a decade.

Trump told reporters he invited the North Korean leader to the United States, and potentially even to the White House.

“I would invite him right now,” Trump said, standing next to Kim. Speaking through a translator, Kim responded that it would be an “honor” to invite Trump to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang “at the right time.”

North Korea’s state media later described the meeting as “an amazing event.”

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with the leader of the isolated nation last year when they signed an agreement in Singapore to bring the North toward denuclearization.

In the midst of the DMZ gathering, Trump repeatedly complained that he was not receiving more praise for de-escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula through his personal diplomacy with Kim. Critics say Trump had actually inflamed tensions with his threats to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea, before embracing a diplomatic approach.

North Korea’s nuclear threat has not been contained, according to Richard Haas, president of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. He tweeted Sunday that the threat of conflict has subsided only because the Trump administration has decided it can live with North Korea’s “nuclear program while it pursues the chimera of denuclearization.”

Every president since Ronald Reagan has visited the 1953 armistice line, except for George H.W. Bush, who visited when he was vice president. The show of bravado and support for South Korea, one of America’s closest military allies, has evolved over the years to include binoculars and bomber jackets.

While North Korea has not recently tested a long-range missile that could reach the U.S., last month it fired off a series of short-range missiles . Trump has brushed off the significance of those tests, even as his own national security adviser, John Bolton, has said they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Fake photo OP! trump's entire life is nothing but one staged clown routine after the other. As long as there are MAGA droolers, he'll get away with it.
Hey T2C
I drool for no man. I have enough guts and integrity to use my real name too. I am a solid believer in Jesus Christ, not one to worship government or any man. However... Our President has turned around, what the last jerk implemented, thus "Making America Great Again". The last jerk from Kenya nearly transformed America, something perhaps you wish could have happened, but it didn't. I'm guessing you don't live anywhere around here, you only troll. The G20 Summit has thus far, been a big success for the U.S. and that bothers you trolling idiots. Hit the road ya filthy unwashed animal.
T2C, what ever happened to giving the President of the United States a chance?Negotiations are commonly one step forward and two steps backward. President Trump is unorthodox. Every American and world citizen should at least hope for the best. Certainly, no one else has been able to do what President Trump has with Chairman Kim. Do you hate President Trump so much that you want this to fail? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Maybe it will turn out to be just a photo worst. Maybe it will begin to diffuse North Korea as a threat to the world. President Trump has already done enough to earn the Nobel Peace Prize on this one. I remember President Obama’s visit to Cuba. The media thought that was the greatest thing ever. That turned out to be more of a “clown routine”, as you say. Now let’s see if you can drop the Trump Derangement Syndrome and be a supportive American citizen. Since 1950 North Korea has been a threat to world peace. After North Korea was gifted nuclear capacity by President Clinton things have spiraled downward. Maybe President Trump is on to something. Peace is always worth a chance, isn’t it?
See, right here is why you, T2C are a punk. I kindly offered you a chance to contribute to the discussion in an intellectual manner. Instead you came back with low intellect insults, because that is all you have to offer. How many buildings have your name on the side of them? How many companies do you own? What is your net worth in Billions of $? How many people work for you? How much international business experience do you have? Zero is the answer. T2C, you are a zero. Hypocrisy is wonderful isn’t it? You are a low intellect vulgar rude punk with mental dysfunction. Keep it up! Collusion is a fraud...just like you.
Dear T2C,
It's said, "“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” You behave as a loser, but you don't have to be. Embrace truth, integrity, and honor, you'll be a better person, and a victor.
Ha Ha Ha, another strolling troll. Democrats tried to belittle Reagan as, "a combination of Ebenezer Scrooge and the mad bomber."
You see Joe, your kind just kicks against the goad. You'll ignore facts, history, and even truth.
Now a smart man looks at history, and learns from it. Try this out Joe, "peace through strength". Trump's not stopping there... he'll restore "a defense capability that provides a margin of safety for America." America First
Come on in Joe, the water's nice.
He ended a hostile relationship between NK and US. Trump is building off that. It's early Joe, just wait, we'll see. Now heres another question... Let's just recall what Obama did on N. Korea. oh yea, NOTHING. Well at least Obama didn't send over $1.5 billion in cash and $150 billion to fund Iranian middle east terrorism. Obama's legacy. John Kerry's legacy. Hillary's Legacy. Dems are not even in the same class as Trump.
Awesome speech. The stupid idiot thinks that there where airports in the 1700's what a idiot and you praise this nut. You must be just as dumb. I guess you praised the site of the man with his daughter lying dead in the water trying to get to this country for a better life. Why don't you try the Bud Dwyer trick.
Hate filled comment Tammy. I've not seen it confirmed that it was in deed a father and daughter, never the less, it saddens me to see the fools of America embracing Socialism, the very thing that made those S.A. countries shi _ holes. It's sad!
TG. You say, “...the stupid idiot thinks that there where...” I point out your hypocrisy. You seem to be the stupid idiot. You are unable to achieve an 8th grade level English grammar level as you insult the President. Maybe you should brush up on manners and intellect before you insult those who are superior to you in every way. The Independence Day Trump speech was awesome. President Trump honored the warriors of our great country. You are a rude low IQ punk that hates America. You are free to leave. You place your hateful ignorance on stage. Keep it up. Hug your emotional support bunny rabbit if you are too weak to handle a Patriotic event. MAGA!
Come on Joe. Iran has been a miscreant for about 40 years now. Do you recall the hostages? Do you recall the “death to America” chants in the streets by forced protesters during the Obama/Kerry debacle? Are you rooting for failure for America in stopping Iran’s nuclear warmongering? Do you hate President Trump so much you wish for failure of American policy? Are you even aware of the hidden negotiations? The sanctions are working and that is why Iran is crumbling. They are reverting to warmongering. Watch as President Trump maneuvers through difficult waters. Waters, that I might add, he was placed in through Obama/Biden/Kerry failures. You, Joe, render yourself intellectually useless by your Trump Derangement Syndrome. The $150 Billion dollars Obama gave to Iran (extra Constitutionally) is what is keeping Iran afloat. Don’t be a petty anti-American just because you hate the President. You should be ashamed of yourself for that. Every time you exhibit this shallow behavior reveals why your preemptive hatred of President Trump renders you intellectually useless. Keep it up.
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