In an unexpected burst of diplomacy Sunday, he crossed the demilitarized zone and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to become the first sitting U.S. president to set foot on North Korean soil.
The two leaders shook hands and met for about an hour in an effort to restart bilateral diplomatic talks toward denuclearization that stalled after the Hanoi summit in February.
Kim Jong Un praised Trump’s bold visit to the DMZ describing it as “a courageous and determined act” telling the president, “Good to see you again, I never expected to see you in this place,” while exchanging handshakes.
At their historic meeting, Trump and Kim agreed to designate diplomatic teams to resume denuclearization talks in exchange for the loosening of U.S. sanctions and the maximum pressure campaign against the hermit kingdom to advance world peace. The president’s goal is to persuade Kim that relinquishing nuclear weapons in exchange for economic relief, access to oil imports and global financial markets is in North Korea’s and the world’s best interest.
The president tweeted, “Leaving South Korea after a wonderful meeting with Chairman Kim Jong Un. Stood on the soil of North Korea, an important statement for all, and a great honor!”
Predictably, naysayers were quick to denounce the high-profile summit.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “Our President shouldn’t be squandering American influence on photo ops and exchanging love letters with a ruthless dictator. Instead, we should be dealing with North Korea through principled diplomacy that promotes US security, defends our allies, and upholds human rights.”
Her Democratic primary rival, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, took a different stance saying he had “no problem” with Trump’s summit with Kim but that he wanted to see “real diplomacy.”
Sanders’ weak critique notwithstanding, Trump’s visit to North Korea will be studied for decades, and may become a defining moment of his administration.
With respect to achieving the administration’s denuclearization objectives, the president said, “We’re not looking for speed. We’re looking to get it right. We’re on a very good path. This was a terrific day.”
Even Pope Francis praised the president for developing a once-in-a-generation relationship with Kim Jong Un to advance world peace.
At St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday, the pope said, “In the last few hours we saw in Korea a good example of the culture of encounter. I salute the protagonists, with a prayer that such a significant gesture will be a further step on the road to peace, not only on that peninsula, but for the good of the entire world.”
Hats off to our commander in chief for advancing the real possibility of nuclear disarmament at this pivotal moment.
As he likes to say — “we’ll see what happens.”