Trump makes history by entering North Korea

Donald Trump made history on Sunday by becoming the first sitting US president to enter North Korea.

Waiting for him at the heavily guarded demilitarised zone (DMZ) was North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un who warmly greeted him and agreed to restart stalled nuclear talks.

After a “handshake of peace” and exchange of words, Kim requested Trump to step over the line.

Trump crossed into North Korea at 3.45pm local time. He said the brief visit was an unexpected honour for him.

Kim said it was good to see Trump again, adding that he never expected to see him at DMZ. Both of them then crossed back to the southern side.

Trump first thanked Kim for meeting him on short notice. He also invited Kim to the White House “anytime he wants to do it” adding that he liked the young leader from the day they met.

Trump said that for months, he and Kim had been waiting for this historic meeting at DMZ. There is “tremendous positivity” on both sides, he told reporters while posing for photos with Kim.

Calling Trump’s border crossing “historic”, Kim said it showed the US president’s willingness to go the extra mile to bring peace in the Korean Peninsula.

Their handshake at the inter-Korean border showed both Washington and Pyongyang are willing to put the past behind them, Kim said.

He then walked into the Freedom House in Panmunjom Truce Village along with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Inside the building, Kim and Trump held serious talks for nearly an hour and not for two minutes to exchange pleasantries as the US president had hinted at in his tweet on Saturday. 

Emerging from Freedom House after the meeting, Trump said both sides have agreed to designate teams to work out details on the way forward. The US side will be led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Trump said speed is not the object as the two sides work towards a comprehensive deal.

Kim said his “wonderful” relationship with Trump would enable the two sides to restart stalled nuclear talks.

Moon, who initiated the peace process with North Korea early last year and held three summits with Kim in April, May and September, closely watched Sunday’s proceedings.

South Korea hopes the third meeting between Kim and Trump at DMZ will pave way for resumption of suspended inter-Korean projects, which, in turn, could speed up the denuclearisation progress.

However, Washington does not encourage Seoul to promote such projects as it could undermine the existing sanctions on North Korea.

After the Hanoi summit breakdown, the US has been going slow on talks with North Korea maybe to buy more time to ensure that Pyongyang completely stops nuclear and missile tests.