Trump proposed DMZ meeting in letter to Kim: Asahi

TOKYO • US President Donald Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between the Koreas last Sunday was planned ahead by the two sides, the Asahi has reported, citing unnamed US and North Korean diplomats.

Mr Trump suggested the DMZ meeting in a letter to Mr Kim, which was sent to Pyongyang last month by a senior US official, the Japanese newspaper said.

The North Korean side agreed to give a "sign" if the meeting were to go ahead, according to the report.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed last month that a letter was sent by Mr Trump.

Mr Kim said the letter had "excellent content", state media KCNA reported at the time.

The day before the summit, while in Japan for the Group of 20 gathering, Mr Trump tweeted about his willingness to cross the border to meet Mr Kim. He said he "put out a feeler" and he did not know where Mr Kim was at the time. Hours later, North Korean diplomat Choe Son Hui called Mr Trump's tweet "a very interesting suggestion".

According to Asahi, that was the signal to the US special envoy to North Korea, Mr Stephen Biegun, to start preparing for the meeting.

While Mr Trump has met Mr Kim twice before - at summits in Singapore and Hanoi - no US president had ever sat down with a North Korean leader in the DMZ.

Mr Kim said he was "surprised" by Mr Trump's request to meet, and called the US President's short walk over the demarcation line into North Korea "a very courageous and determined act".

China, North Korea's only major ally, yesterday said it received a briefing from the US on the latest meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Kim. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui and Mr Biegun discussed the meeting during a telephone call on Friday.

While Beijing has not officially announced it, Mr Luo is likely to be China's new special envoy for the North Korea issue, after his predecessor, Mr Kong Xuanyou, became the country's ambassador to Tokyo in late May.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 07, 2019, with the headline 'Trump proposed DMZ meeting in letter to Kim: Asahi'. Print Edition | Subscribe