PANMUNJOM, Korea (CBSNewYork/AP) — With a symbolic handshake in a region known by many as the “scariest place in the world,” President Donald Trump made diplomatic history early Sunday morning as the first U.S. president to step into North Korea.
The president took the historic first step after greeting Northern Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who crossed into the DMZ to shake hands first. The 45th president then took a few steps into the reclusive country, marking a new era in U.S.-Korean politics. The two then walked back into South Korea for an unplanned meeting and possible discussion on how the three countries can move forward.
Trump’s surprise trip to South Korea was announced on Friday while the president was in Japan for the G20 summit.
After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, 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(?)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019
After a brief press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in the two leaders departed for the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which has separated the north and south for over 60 years.
Moon praised the two leaders for “being so brave” to hold the meeting and said, “I hope President Trump will go down in history as the president who achieves peace on Korean Peninsula.”
Trump and Moon’s joint journey also marked the first time the leaders of South Korea and the U.S. had been in the DMZ at the same time.
US President Donald Trump (L) and South Korean President Moon Jae-in visit an observation post in the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea on June 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images)
The meeting between Trump and Kim also marked another historic first in the year-long dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea, who are technically are still at war. The return of face-to-face contact between the leaders was the first since negotiations to end the North’s nuclear program broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February.
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(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)