Kim Meet: Trump Takes Historic Steps into North Korea

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Seoul (CNN)- President Donald Trump shook hands with Kim Jong Un on Sunday and took 20 steps into North Korea, making history as the first sitting US leader to set foot in the hermit kingdom.

Trump crossed the low stone curb separating the North and South at 3:45 p.m. local time, making his way alongside a grinning Kim into a country that’s long been a global pariah for its nuclear ambitions and dismal record on human rights.

The event, seemingly spontaneous and broadcast live, took to a new level Trump’s showman instincts and view of diplomacy as a test of interpersonal skills. Afterward, Trump said he agreed with Kim to revive staff-level talks that had collapsed after their last summit in February.

The encounter at the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone — their third in person — came a day after Trump raised the prospect of a border handshake in a tweet and declared he’d have “no problem” stepping into North Korea.

“Would you like me to step across?” Trump asked Kim as they shook hands. “I am OK with it.”

While inside North Korean territory, Trump and Kim shook hands and patted each other’s backs before returning across the border to the South after about a minute.

“I never expected to meet you at this place,” Kim, who appeared overjoyed in the moment, told Trump through an interpreter.

Later, Trump said he was “proud to step over the line” and thanked Kim for the meeting. He invited him to the White House, though later acknowledged such a visit would likely not come soon.

The North Korean leader said he was surprised by Trump’s request to meet, and accepted the offer due to their “excellent relationship” and the significance of meeting at the border.

“I think meeting here, two countries that have a hostile past, we are showcasing to the world that we have a new present and we have a positive meeting going forward,” he said.

After the historic handshake, the two men met inside the Freedom House at the DMZ for just under an hour — a more substantial session than Trump previewed earlier when he said his encounter with Kim would amount to little more than a handshake.

The moment marks a milepost in the United States’ fraught history with North Korea, but what it means beyond a display of friendship wasn’t immediately clear.

There did not appear to be any new commitments made in Trump’s 50-minute meeting with Kim beyond an agreement to restart talks. And Trump himself said afterward he was in no rush to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

Still, the meeting and historic border crossing have broken a stalemate in the talks that hasn’t broken since Trump walked out of his last meeting with Kim in Vietnam four months ago.

Trump said negotiating teams would begin meeting in a matter of weeks.

The US team will be led by the current US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, Trump said. Turning to Biegun, Trump wished him luck.

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