(Bloomberg) — U.S. President Donald Trump siphoned away attention from the cavalcade of Democrats vying to replace him with an audacious invitation for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to shake hands at the Demilitarized Zone.The offer — naturally made over Twitter while the president attended the Group of 20 summit in Japan — was an act of showmanship fraught with risk for U.S. efforts to dismantle Kim’s nuclear arsenal. Despite two historic photo-ops with the North Korean leader over the past year, denuclearization talks have gone nowhere.“I understand they want to meet,” Trump said of the North Koreans at an event with South Korean business leaders on Sunday. But he didn’t indicate whether Kim would show up.“I’d love to say hello,” he said. “Let’s see what happens. They’re trying to work it out. Not so easy.”Trump will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Sunday and then travel to the DMZ. His official schedule doesn’t list a meeting with Kim and doesn’t allow much time for it.Trump’s invitation appeared to catch some of his most senior advisers off-guard, although many have long moved past being surprised by impromptu Twitter announcements that trip-up intricate plans. North Korea also seemed unprepared, with top diplomat Choe Son Hui saying it was “a very interesting suggestion, but we have not received an official proposal in this regard.”The meeting would be heavy with symbolism for two countries locked in hostility since the Korean War started almost 70 years ago. If Trump stepped into North Korea, as Moon did during a similar rendezvous with Kim last year, he would become the first sitting U.S. president do so.Asked about the possibility at a news conference on Saturday, Trump responded: “Sure I would.” His daughter, Ivanka Trump, said in an interview on Sunday that she would “absolutely” accompany him, calling the prospect of her father entering the country “a very meaningful moment.”Far ApartThe announcement swung attention back to Trump and away from the more than 20 Democratic presidential contenders. They held their first round of debates last week as they compete for the chance to oust the president, drawing prime-time television coverage while Trump met with world leaders out of sight of most Americans.But face-to-face meetings with Kim haven’t prompted the North Korean leader to move meaningfully toward denuclearization, especially not since Trump walked out of their last summit in February.Story continues“Both want to do it,” Trump said of a potential DMZ meeting after a speech to the business leaders. The encounter would be “very short,” he said. “A handshake means a lot.”Despite exchanging warm words through letters and the media, they’re still far apart on any plan to reduce or eliminate Kim’s nuclear arsenal. A Trump visit to the Demilitarized Zone had been widely expected, but a border meeting with Kim had been seen as a near impossibility — not least because U.S. communication channels with North Korea are so tenuous.“Trump never ceases to surprise in terms of diplomatic tactics with Kim,” said Victor Cha, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “South Korea will work hard to get Kim to show up, but there’s nothing really to be gained from it except for a photo op.”The tweet was also a shock because the president himself suggested on June 11 that the time wasn’t ripe for a meeting, and that he wanted to “bring it further down the line” before a third summit. The last time they met in Hanoi, Trump rejected North Korea’s offer to dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear enrichment site in exchange for broad sanctions relief.The speedy North Korean response suggested a willingness to make the meeting happen, despite Choe’s request for a more formal invitation.“They replied very quickly,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst with NK Pro. “Receiving a formal request from the U.S. president would give Kim Jong Un the grounds at home to meet with Trump.”Despite the possibility of a DMZ meeting, Trump’s trip to South Korea on Saturday and Sunday could also highlight the distance between the parties.Moon, who had his own cross-border handshake with Kim a little more than a year ago and promised a treaty to formally resolve the 1950-53 Korean War, still hasn’t delivered it. But lately Kim turned cool to South Korea after his last meeting with Trump broke down, dismissing Moon as an “officious mediator.”‘Impasse’“We are at an impasse,” Michael Green, a senior vice president for Asia for CSIS and a former National Security Council official under President George W. Bush, said before Trump’s tweet.“Moon Jae-in would like to agree with President Trump on a lasting peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “I don’t think any of the president’s advisers think that’s a good idea absent some steps towards denuclearization. And frankly, those are going to be pretty tough.”Although a return to nuclear tests and threats of “fire and fury” seem unlikely for now, North Korea has reaffirmed Kim’s warning that he would only wait until the end of the year for the U.S. to make a better offer. In May, he sent Trump a pointed message about the potential for renewed tensions, test-launching ballistic missiles for the first time since November 2017.The problem stems in part from Trump’s decision to bypass diplomats and meet with Kim directly: He built a one-on-one rapport with the young leader, but can’t hand off to someone else. North Korea has mocked or avoided Trump’s intermediaries whenever there’s no immediate promise of a summit, even demanding Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s removal from talks in April.‘Beautiful Letter’But Trump and Kim have been careful to preserve their relationship. Trump shrugged off a recent North Korean missile test as “some small weapons” and praised the “beautiful letter” the North Korean leader sent this month ahead of the anniversary of their Singapore meeting. North Korean state media published a photo of Kim reading with “satisfaction” similar correspondence from Trump this week.“One would think that this would be an opportunity that the presidents would want to take seriously,” said Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea studies and director of the Council on Foreign Relations’ program on U.S.-Korea policy. “It would be best if the message were well crafted and not just spur of the moment.”(Updates with Trump remarks beginning in third paragraph.)–With assistance from Jon Herskovitz, Jihye Lee, Hannah Dormido and Jennifer Jacobs.To contact the reporters on this story: Nick Wadhams in Osaka, Japan, at firstname.lastname@example.org;Margaret Talev in Osaka, Japan, at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Bill Faries at email@example.com, Alex WayneFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.