U.S. President Trump, DPRK leader Kim meet in Panmunjom, pledge to restart talks

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-30 18:55:26|Editor: Wu Qin
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SEOUL, June 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), on Sunday met at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom.

Trump, who arrived in South Korea Saturday night after attending the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Japan, held talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday morning, then went to Panmunjom by helicopter around noon time.

Trump greeted Kim and shook hands with him right above the military demarcation line (MDL), marked by a low concrete slab.

Together with Kim, Trump crossed the MDL into the DPRK side of Panmunjom, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to set foot on the DPRK territory.

On the DPRK side, the leaders of the DPRK and the United States shook hands again and took a photo opportunity before crossing the MDL back into the South Korean side.

The MDL has divided the Korean Peninsula into two since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with armistice, not a peace treaty. The peninsula remains in a technical state of war because of the armistice agreement.

Kim called Trump's walk across the border a "courageous and determined act" to liquidate an unpleasant past and pioneer a good future.

President Moon joined Kim and Trump later, talking with each other with beaming smiles. It marked the first time in history that the leaders of the two Koreas and the United States met in Panmunjom.

Kim and Trump walked into the Freedom House, a South Korean building in Panmunjom, for the 50-minute closed-door meeting.

Before the one-on-one meeting, Trump sat with Kim in front of reporters, with U.S. and DPRK national flags standing on the background, saying that it was a "great honor" to have become the first sitting U.S. president to step into the DPRK.

The DPRK leader said the handshake of peace with the U.S. president represented a difference in relations between the two countries, which had long been hostile in the past. Trump thanked Kim for accepting his invitation.

Trump invited Kim to meet through his Twitter message Saturday, saying at a press conference in Japan that he would feel comfortable stepping over into the DPRK if Kim showed up.

After the face-to-face meeting between Trump and Kim, the three leaders walked out of the Freedom House together, then Trump and Moon bade farewell to Kim.

Trump told reporters that the United States and the DPRK would set up teams, with the U.S. team led by Stephen Biegun, special representative for the DPRK affairs, to resume the stalled denuclearization talks in two to three weeks.

Trump said he hoped for a comprehensive deal between Pyongyang and Washington, but he noted that "speed is not the object" as both sides looked to "get it right."

Regarding the sanctions against Pyongyang, Trump opened a possibility for the scaling back of the sanctions, saying it can happen "at some point during the negotiation."

Trump also invited Kim to visit the United States, while the DPRK leader reciprocated by inviting Trump to visit Pyongyang "at the right time".

Before the Panmunjom meeting, Trump and Kim first held their meeting in Singapore last June, with the two leaders agreeing to the complete denuclearization of and the permanent peace settlement on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim and Trump then met for the second time in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi in February, but the summit ended with no agreement, and the denuclearization negotiation between Pyongyang and Washington had been stalled.

Standing beside Trump, Moon praised the U.S. leader for his "bold and creative" approach to the denuclearization talks, saying Trump's proposal realized the historic Panmunjom meeting.

Before the Panmunjom meeting, Trump and Moon stood atop the Observation Post Ouellette in the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to let the U.S. president take a glimpse of the DPRK.

It was the first time that the leaders of South Korea and the United States made a joint tour to the DMZ.

Trump and Moon also met with both the service members of the United States and South Korea in Camp Bonifas, a UN Command military post located just about 400 meters south of the South Korean boundary of the DMZ.

After his Panmunjom talks with Kim, Trump headed to an American air base in Osan, just south of Seoul, and addressed members of the U.S military there. In his speech, he called his earlier talks with Kim as "a very productive meeting".

Trump was scheduled to leave South Korea for his home country later in the day.