The Slatest

Trump Tweets Invite to Kim Jong Un to “Shake His Hand and Say Hello” at Demilitarized Zone

President Donald Trump and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in stand together before a working dinner at the tea house on the grounds of the presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 29, 2019.
President Donald Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in stand together before a working dinner at the tea house on the grounds of the presidential Blue House in Seoul on June 29, 2019.

President Donald Trump continued with his strategy of diplomacy via Twitter on Saturday morning when he tweeted out what he described as a spontaneous invite to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Trump sent the tweet as he was getting ready to leave Japan to go to South Korea. “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 (?)!” Trump tweeted.

The president later told reporters it was all spur of the moment. “I just thought of it this morning,” Trump said, adding that what he did with his tweet was “put out a feeler if he’d like to meet.” Trump also mentioned that “he sent me a very beautiful birthday card.” The president went on to say that “we seem to get along very well,” adding “that’s a good thing, not a bad thing … it’s good to get along.” He went on to suggest that Americans should be grateful for that because “frankly if I didn’t become president you’d be right now in a war with North Korea … and by the way that’s a certainty, it’s not like maybe.” Trump claimed Pyongyang welcomed his invitation. “I can tell you exactly what they did: respond very favorably,” Trump said in Osaka.

It’s unclear whether the meeting will actually happen, but if it does there is no sign that it would be anything beyond a photo-op. “If he’s there, we’ll see each other for two minutes. That’s all we can,” Trump said. Trump told reporters he didn’t want it to be referred to as a summit. “We won’t call it a summit, we’ll call it a handshake,” Trump said. The president also told reporters he would be willing to step foot into North Korea. “I feel very comfortable doing that. I would have no problem,” Trump said in Osaka. It would make him the first sitting U.S. president to step foot in North Korea.

A North Korean official called Trump’s invitation a “very interesting suggestion” but failed to say whether Kim would accept. “We have not received an official proposal,” Choe Son Hui, a senior North Korean diplomat, told state-run news agency KCNA.

Although Trump took pains to frame his invitation as spontaneous and unplanned, there are hints that may not be quite accurate. The president had discussed a possible meeting with Kim at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during an interview with the Hill Monday morning but the White House asked for that information to be withheld due to security concerns. “I’m gonna be there for a day. I understand that’s one of the places I’ll be visiting,” Trump told the Hill on Monday. When he was asked whether he would meet with Kim, Trump said, “I might, yeah.”