US & World

Trump Meets Kim Jong Un, Steps Into North Korea

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walks with President Trump north of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walks with President Trump north of the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Sunday.
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 3:09 a.m. ET

President Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in North Korea Sunday, after he met leader Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas.

It was the third time the two leaders have met.

"I never expected to meet you at this place" Kim told Trump through an interpreter as the two shook hands for cameras.

Our original story continues:

Earlier in the day in Seoul, Trump said "I'll be meeting with Chairman Kim, I look forward to it very much," Trump told reporters. "I look forward to seeing him, we've developed a very good relationship, and we understand each other, I do believe he understands me and I think I maybe understand him. And sometimes that can lead to very good things."

Trump described the meeting as only a brief encounter to shake hands.

Speaking next to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Trump said the meeting was "just a step. It might be an important step, and it might not," he said, adding that it's "probably a step in the right direction."

Moon said the meeting "will give hope to the peoples of the South and North Koreas and establish a milestone in the history of humanity's pursuit of peace."

Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to hold a summit with a sitting North Korean leader when he met with Kim in Singapore in June 2018. The summit ended with promises for North Korea to pursue denuclearization — but little in the way of details on how to get that done.

Trump's second summit with Kim, in Vietnam in February, ended early after the two could not reach an agreement on moving forward. Trump said Kim insisted on sanctions being removed before dismantling key nuclear programs, to which he responded that "we couldn't do that."

The two leaders have since exchanged letters.

At the news conference Sunday, Trump and Moon were questioned about whether the meeting might help grease the wheels for a third formal summit between Trump and Kim on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula, with the potential for the North to abandon its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a lifting of crippling international sanctions. Trump was uncharacteristically restrained about the notion. "Let's see what happens today before we start thinking about that," he said.

NPR's Michael Sullivan contributed reporting.

This story will be updated.

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