OSAKA, Japan – Wrapping up events at the G-20 summit, President Donald Trump invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet him at his next stop in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea.
“If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” Trump tweeted Saturday morning Japan time.
North Korea state media reported hours later that Kim’s regime viewed the invitation as a “very interesting suggestion” but did not commit to the idea. Kim’s government has been critical of the United States in recent days amid calls for a third Trump-Kim summit to discuss eliminating Kim’s nuclear weapons programs.
Trump later told reporters he didn’t know if Kim would take him up on his offer.
“I just put out a feeler,” Trump said before a G-20 meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
If the meeting comes off, he added, it might last for only two minutes or so.
Before heading to South Korea late Saturday, Trump has G-20 meetings that include a session with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss North Korea. Xi has met with Kim in recent days, and is encouraging renewed talks between the U.S. and North Korea.
Earlier this week, before the G-20 trip to Japan and South Korea, Trump administration officials had denied that a Trump-Kim meeting was in the offing.
After flying to Seoul later Saturday, Trump will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has been pushing the United States and North Korea to set up another Trump-Kim summit.
South Korean media reported that, after extending the DMZ invitation to Kim, Trump came up to Moon before a G20 session and asked, “did you see my tweet?”
“Yes,” Moon replied, “I saw.”
Relations between the United States and North Korea have been at a standstill since the collapse of the second Trump-Kim summit in February in Vietnam.
The talks broke up as Kim refused to provide what U.S. officials called a detailed plan for dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs; Trump, meanwhile, has refused North Korea’s demands that the U.S. remove economic sanctions on Kim’s government before it provides a denuclearization plan.
While Trump has spoken warmly of Kim recently – he said he and his North Korean counterpart exchanged “beautiful” letters in recent weeks – Kim’s government has been more critical.
The U.S. “repeatedly talks about resumption of dialogue like a parrot without considering any realistic proposal that would fully conform with the interests of both sides,” said a statement this week from North Korea’s foreign ministry.
Until Trump’s tweet, officials had declined to discussed Trump’s planned visit to the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea, citing security concerns.
The DMZ, a heavily guarded area filled with land mines, is a product of the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War.
It may be the most heavily fortified region in the world.
Trump had planned to visit the DMZ during a visit to South Korea in November 2017, but officials called off that side trip because of bad weather that made it hard for choppers to fly over the area. Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials have already seen the DMZ.
Trump, who is seeking to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, praised the security of the DMZ after tweeting out his invitation to Kim.
“You talk about a wall,” Trump said. “When you talk about a border, that’s what they call a border. Nobody goes through that border.”