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Trump makes history, becomes first sitting U.S. President to step foot in North Korea

Published: Jun. 30, 2019 at 9:58 AM EDT
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With wide grins and a historic handshake, President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un met at the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone on Sunday and agreed to revive talks on the pariah nation’s nuclear program.

Trump, pressing his bid for a legacy-defining deal, became the first sitting American leader to step into North Korea.

What was intended to be an impromptu exchange of pleasantries turned into a 50-minute meeting, another historic first in the yearlong rapprochement between the two technically warring nations. It marked a return to face-to-face contact between the leaders after talks broke down during a summit in Vietnam in February.

Significant doubts remain, though, about the future of the negotiations and the North’s willingness to give up its stockpile of nuclear weapons .

The border encounter was a made-for television moment. The men strode toward one another from opposite sides of the Joint Security Area and shook hands over the raised patch of concrete at the Military Demarcation Line as cameras clicked and photographers jostled to capture the scene.

After asking if Kim wanted him to cross, Trump took 10 steps into the North with Kim at his side, then escorted Kim back to the South for talks at Freedom House, where they agreed to revive the stalled negotiations.

“I was proud to step over the line,” Trump told Kim as they met in on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom. “It is a great day for the world.”

Kim hailed the moment, saying of Trump, “I believe this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future.” Kim added that he was “surprised” when Trump issued an unorthodox meeting invitation by tweet on Saturday.