U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday suggested he would be open to a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) during his visit to the Korean peninsula this weekend.
In comments that come ahead of a final day of meetings of the G20 in Osaka, Trump announced to his Twitter followers he would later in the day depart for South Korea.
“After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon),” he said.
“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(?)!”
Later asked about the remarks on Saturday, Trump said he had “just put out a feeler” to meet the North Korean leader.
“If he’s there we’ll meet for two minutes,” the President said, according to the White House press pool reports.
Trump’s comments follow days of speculation that the U.S. President would use his upcoming trip to the Korean peninsula — where he will also meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in — to hold an impromptu summit with Kim Jong Un at the DMZ.
Should such a meeting go ahead, it would be the first between the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea since February, when a summit between the two in Hanoi fell apart amid disagreement over sanctions.
It would also likely take place on Sunday: the President is set to arrive in South Korea later this evening, where he will attend a formal banquet at South Korea’s Blue House.
The following day will see the President hold a summit with Moon, with the rest of his formal itinerary remaining unconfirmed.
One expert told NK News he saw Trump’s remarks as an expression of diplomatic goodwill towards the North.
“I’m all for it,” said Mintaro Oba, a former East Asia Desk officer at the U.S. State Department. “I think the United States needs to demonstrate good faith and a commitment to diplomacy, and this messaging serves that purpose.”
News that a surprise third summit between the two leaders may be in the works also follows remarks by U.S. Special Representative Stephen Biegun in meetings in Seoul on Friday, in which he stressed the U.S. was open to talks with North Korea on “simultaneous and parallel” progress.
In comments released by South Korea’s foreign ministry following a meeting between Stephen Biegun and his local counterpart Lee Do-hoon in Seoul, the top U.S. envoy stressed Washington is “ready to hold constructive discussions with North Korea.”
It also follows an exchange of letters between the two leaders last week.
Pyongyang has in recent days ramped up pressure on both the U.S. and South Korea through a series of articles in externally-focused state media outlets and following months of diplomatic stalemate between the DPRK and the U.S.
In a statement issued under the name of foreign ministry official Kwon Jong Gun, the North on Thursday warned the U.S. against underestimating Pyongyang’s “empty talk” and dismissed Seoul’s attempts to play the role of mediator in nuclear negotiations.
Just a day earlier, a spokesperson for the DPRK foreign ministry stressed that progress in bilateral ties and on denuclearization would stall “as long as American politics is dominated by policy-makers who have an inveterate antagonism towards the DPRK.”
Featured image: White House