President Trump confirmed Sunday afternoon that his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the DMZ will be taking place.
“I put out the word, and he got back,” said Trump. “He wanted to do it from the beginning and so did I.”
Trump said he and Kim will “just shake hands and say hello,” and called the meeting “just a step” towards continuing negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear program. The two leaders have met twice before, in Singapore last year and in Hanoi in February.
“It might be an important step, it might not,” he said. “Probably it is a step in the right direction.”
Anticipation of the meeting had been growing since Saturday morning, when Trump tweeted out an offer an invitation to the North Korean leader at the DMZ.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in made the announcement at a press conference following his summit with President Trump.
Moon said that “for the first time in history, the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea will be standing face-to-face in Panmunjom.”
Trump will be flying up to the DMZ, about 30 miles from Seoul, by helicopter. The meeting will take place in Panmunjom, the “truce village” that straddles the border, where Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong Un met and shook hands at their historic summit in April last year
President Moon will be accompanying Trump on the trip, but said “the focal point of dialogue is between the U.S. and North Korea.”
Trump said yesterday that he would be willing to step across the border into North Korea if he met with Kim at the DMZ.
“I would feel very comfortable doing that,” Trump said. “I would have no problem.”
Panmunjom is where the armistice that halted the 1950-1953 Korean War was signed. It has yet to be replaced by a peace treaty, meaning the war has not technically ended.
Some 28,500 American troops are still stationed in South Korea and the 160-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide DMZ remains one of the most heavily fortified areas in the world, with troops and guard stations on both sides of the border and an estimated one million landmines inside.
After a Moon-Kim summit in Pyongyang in September, the two Koreas agreed to begin reducing some of the tension at the border, including removing guard posts and demining certain areas.
The south side of the Joint Security Area, where Panmunjom is located, was reopened to civilians in May after being temporary closed for renovations for six months