Donald Trump once again wrote a page of history Sunday with North Korea becoming the first president of the United States to tread the soil of this country, during a meeting with Kim Jong A meeting that allowed to reboot the discussions on the Pyongyang nuclear program.
A little over a year after their first Singapore summit, the two men found themselves, for the third time, in an emblematic setting: the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas since the end of the war (1950 -53), which saw China and the United States also face each other.
Accompanied by the strong man of Pyongyang wearing his traditional suit Mao anthracite, the American billionaire has crossed the concrete line that materializes the border, and walked briefly in North Korean territory before turning around.
The two men then posed for the photographers behind the demarcation line of the village of Panmunjom, where the 1953 armistice was signed.
“It's a great day for the world,” said Donald Trump, saying “proud to have crossed this line”. For his part, Kim Jong Un hoped to “overcome the obstacles” thanks to his “wonderful” ties with Mr. Trump.
“The fact that the two countries, despite a long relationship of hostility, could have shaken hands for peace in the place that symbolizes division … shows that the present is better than the past. “, observed Kim Jong Un.
The number one North Korean had crossed the border last year at its first summit on the DMZ with his South Korean counterpart.
Resumption of negotiations
After an interview of about 45 minutes on the South side, Mr. Trump then escorted Kim Jong Un to his country, this time with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Speaking to reporters, Donald Trump announced that he had invited Kim to visit the United States, but did not specify a date. “It will happen one day or another,” he simply remarked.
In the shorter term, the billionaire announced that negotiators from both countries would resume their talks “within two to three weeks” about the Pyongyang nuclear program.
After the euphoria of Singapore, the rapprochement between the two countries seemed to be in the rut in recent months, especially after the failure of the second summit held in Hanoi last February.
The issue of the denuclearization of North Korea continues to block the process of détente. The Trump administration demands that Pyongyang permanently give up its nuclear program before considering lifting international sanctions, which the North refuses.
The Panmunjom meeting will probably not be enough to solve the delicate North Korean nuclear issue, analysts say. But the symbol is important for two countries that were threatening each other with annihilation a year and a half ago.
The meeting has “the potential to restart negotiations,” observes David Kim, an analyst at the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank, noting that new discussions in preparation will be “crucial.”
“What is needed is content, not theater.”
With the exception of George Bush Sr., all US Presidents paid a symbolic visit to the DMZ. Donald Trump should have sacrificed tradition during his first visit to South Korea in 2017, but the fog had prevented his helicopter from landing.
Before arriving Saturday in South Korea, Donald Trump had sent via Twitter a surprise invitation to Kim Jong Un to come and say “hello”. But just a few hours before the scheduled meeting time, it was still unclear whether Mr. Kim would go to the meeting or not.
“It will be very short, but it does not matter, a handshake means a lot,” the American billionaire said.