(OSAKA, Japan) — President Donald Trump on Saturday invited North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to shake hands during a possible visit by Trump to the demilitarized zone with South Korea. Trump is scheduled to fly to South Korea later Saturday after he concludes meetings at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, including with the president of China.
He tweeted Saturday morning that afterward: “I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). 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(?)!”
White House officials, who had previously ruled out such a possibility before the trip, did not immediately respond to requests as to whether Kim had already agreed to meet with Trump.
Trump’s summit with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with the leader of the isolated nation last year in Singapore, where they signed a broad agreement to bring the North toward denuclearization.
Substantive talks between the two nations have largely broken down since then, as the North has balked at Trump’s insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from crushing international sanctions. Still, Trump has sought to publicly heap praise on Kim, who oversees an authoritarian government, in hopes of keeping a deal alive, and the two have traded flowery letters in recent weeks.
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 one of America’s closest military allies has evolved over the years to include binoculars and bomber jackets.
Trump, ever the showman, appears to be looking to one-up his predecessors with a meeting with Kim. As he left the White House for Asia earlier this week, Trump was asked whether he’d meet with Kim while he is in the region. “I’ll be meeting with a lot of other people … but I may be speaking to him in a different form,” Trump said.
Such trips to the demilitarized zone, the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea, are usually undertaken under heavy security and the utmost secrecy. Trump tried to visit the DMZ when he was in Seoul in November 2017, but his helicopter was grounded by heavy fog.