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donald trump in north korea

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have held a symbolic meeting at the DMZ, the heavily fortified zone dividing the two Koreas.

Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to cross into North Korea after meeting Kim Jong-un at the demilitarized zone.

Critics have dismissed it as pure political theatre, but others say it could set the scene for future talks.

Their last summit ended abruptly with no progress on denuclearization talks.

Speaking to reporters alongside Kim Jong-un at the DMZ, President Trump said it was a “truly historic” moment and that he was “proud to step over the line” between the Koreas.

Kim Jong-un, in a rare statement to the press, said the meeting was a symbol of the “excellent” relationship between him and President Trump.

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un meeting in June 2018
Image source Wikipedia

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With no time for the all-important backroom diplomacy, it was expected to be largely a photo opportunity. However, the dramatic meeting will be seen as a sign of their ongoing commitment to the denuclearization talks.

Negotiations with North Korea, to try to convince it to abandon its controversial nuclear program, reached a peak last year when Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un had a historic meeting in Singapore.

They both committed to the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula, but without clarifying what that meant.

It was hoped their second meeting, in Hanoi in February 2019, would make some concrete agreement about North Korea handing over its nuclear program in exchange for some of the tight sanctions against it being lifted.

Hwever, those talks ended with no deal, as they failed to agree on the pace at which sanctions should be eased. Since then the negotiations have stalled, though Kim Jong-un and President Trump have exchanged letters recently.

The DMZ, which runs about 2.5 miles wide and 155 miles long, has divided the peninsula since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Though that area, by definition, has no military installations or personnel, beyond it lies one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.

The Joint Security Area (JSA) located at the Panmunjom village straddles the Military Demarcation Line and is where all negotiations between the two Koreas are held.

Tourists can also go to the JSA when relations between North Korea and South Korea – still technically at war – allow it. No US sitting US president has been inside it. Bill Clinton once described it as the “scariest place on Earth”.