US President Donald Trump, who arrived Saturday in Seoul, proposed, in a simple tweet, Kim Jong Un a meeting in the Militarized Zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreans.
This surprise announcement comes four months after the Hanoï summit between the two men, which ended on a failure in the absence of progress on the North-American deceleration. Negotiations have since been stalled.
The presidential plane Air Force One landed on Saturday at Osan Air Base south of Seoul, according to an AFP journalist on board, while an eventual meeting Trump-Kim did not Was not officially confirmed.
Such a handshake between an American president and a North Korean leader would be a first in this symbolic place, which is probably the most militarized border in the world. . This would be their third meeting after the Singapore summit in June 2018 and Hanoi in February.
“While I will be there (in South Korea), and if President Kim sees this message, I could meet him at the border / DMZ just to shake his hand and say hello (? “!”, the US president in Osaka wrote on Twitter, where he was attending the G20 summit.
He then explained that he acted instinctively, claiming that no preparation had been made. “I thought about it this morning,” said the US president.
“I would be very comfortable doing it, it would not be a problem for me,” he said, questioned about the possibility of taking a step to go from there. North.
– “Very interesting” –
Mr. Trump claimed that Kim was following his Twitter account and “promptly” contacted him following this impromptu proposal.
Judging the proposal “very interesting”, the North Korean power stressed that he had not received an official invitation but suggested that the meeting could take place.
“Basically, it means that Kim will come if he receives an official proposal,” said Cheong Seong-Chang, a researcher at the private Sejong Institute in Seoul.
Asked at a dinner with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Donald Trump did not confirm that the handshake would take place. “We’ll see,” he said. “We are working on it”.
Over the last three decades, a brief stop in the highly symbolic DMZ has become almost inevitable for all tenants of the White House. Since Ronald Reagan’s visit there in 1983, only George Bush’s father has not made this move.
– Surprising comparison –
But this visit will take place in a different climate: after years of rising tensions due to the nuclear and ballistic programs of Pyongyang, the peninsula has experienced a remarkable break.
And it was in Panmunjom, in the Defused Zone, that Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in April 2018 for a historic handshake. on the dividing line dividing the peninsula, which is dotted with electrified barriers, minefields and anti-tank walls.
Such an event could “lead to a resumption of talks”, but do not expect “significant short-term progress in North Korea’s efforts to democratize.” “said Scott Seaman, an analyst at the US-based Eurasia Group.
Robert Kelly, from Pusan National University, is more serious: “Trump’s North Korean initiative is a joke: done in a hurry, at the last minute, for the television, “he said on Tweeter. He sees it as a “photo shoot for the 2020 US Presidential Election.”
The former American businessman took advantage of the Korean news to brag again his wall idea at the border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration to the states -United.
“By the way, when we talk about walls, when we talk about a border, it’s what we call a border …”, he launched, sparking the DMZ . “Nobody passes this border …”, he added, in a surprising comparison.
In November 2017, during a visit to Séoul, Mr. Trump had tried unsuccessfully to visit the DMZ. The presidential helicopter had taken off the Yongsan base to reach the site, but had to turn back due to the weather conditions.