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Trump invites Kim Jong Un to shake hands at DMZ

SEOUL — President Trump offered a stunning invitation to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he finished up G20 meetings Saturday, saying he’s prepared to greet the strongman at the demilitarized zone — or DMZ — that separates North and South Korea while he visits this sprawling capital over the weekend.

Mr. Trump’s offer, via Twitter, raises the profile of the president’s stop here.
It was designed as a bilateral session with President Moon-Jae to bolster the U.S.-South Korean alliance and generate momentum for denuclearization and peace talks on the Korean peninsula, after months of stalemate.

“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(?)!” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Mr. Trump did not elaborate on what he hoped to achieve with the handshake, after two previous summits with Mr. Kim failed to result in a firm deal.

Mr. Trump tried to visit the DMZ in 2017, though his attempt was thwarted by heavy fog.

Previous presidents, including Barack Obama, have visited the heavily armed relic of the Cold War structure and Korean War, which ended with an armistice in 1953 instead of everlasting peace.

Mr. Trump’s visit, if it happens, would take on a different flavor. Rather than reinforcing the U.S. alliance with South Korea alone, it would signal an olive branch to Mr. Kim. The two leaders recently exchanged warm letters, signaling a thaw.

The hard part will be finding the right balance between reeling in North Korea’s nuclear and weapons programs, while offering the sanctions relief that Mr. Kim demands.

Mr. Trump said he ended a February summit in Hanoi after the North Koreans demanded sweeping sanctions relief in exchange for only a limited commitment to destroy part of their nuclear arsenal at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Mr. Moon will encourage Mr. Trump to be more flexible and pursue a step-by-step approach that generates momentum.

The South Korean president has tied his legacy to the Korean peace process, so he wants to show progress.

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