The Latest: Trump defends meeting, North Korea efforts

Donald Trump, Moon Jae-in

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, pose for a photo during a visit to the tea house on the grounds of the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, June 29, 2019. Trump is making a quick trip to Seoul after attending the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and North Korea (all times local):

1:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump is defending his decision to stage an historic meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone that separates the North and South, insisting that much progress has been made under his watch.

Trump is nonetheless downplaying the significance of the visit, saying, “It’s just a step.”

He says: “It might be an important step but it might not.”

Trump was asked during a news conference in Seoul about criticism that he is rewarding Kim with a photo-op, even as North Korea continues to test short-range missiles and refuses to give up its nuclear efforts.

Trump says the countries have nonetheless “made tremendous strides” and says it’s “insulting” to even compare where things stand now versus the situation two-and-a-half-years ago before he took office.


1:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s looking forward to meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the Korean Demilitarized Zone later Sunday.

Trump is telling reporters at a joint news conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in that he and Kim will “just shake hands quickly and say hello” at the historic meeting at the Korean border village of Panmunjom.

And he’s praising the chemistry between him and Kim, saying “there’s a lot of good feeling.

The meeting will be the first at the DMZ between U.S. and North Korean leaders since the Korean War ended in an armistice in 1953.

Moon is also hailing Trump as “the peacemaker of the Korean peninsula,” and says he hopes Trump will go down in history as the president who managed to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula.


1:15 p.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will meet at the Korean Demilitarized Zone Sunday afternoon.

Moon says Kim accepted Trump’s invitation to meet when the U.S. president visits the heavily-fortified site at the Korean border village of Panmunjom.

Moon is praising the two leaders for “being so brave” to hold the meeting and says, “I hope President Trump will go down in history as the president who achieves peace on Korean Peninsula.”

Trump Saturday invited Kim to meet him at the border for a symbolic handshake. Trump also expressed openness to crossing into North Korean territory if Kim accepted, saying he’d “have no problem” becoming the first U.S. president to step into North Korea.


11:45 a.m.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in says that a potential handshake between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone would represent “a significant milestone” and be an “historic event.”

Moon says as he and Trump sit down for talks in Seoul on Sunday that Trump’s tweet publicly suggesting the meeting represented a “big hope to the Korean people.”

And he says he can “really feel that the flower of peace was truly blossoming on the Korean peninsula.”

Trump is also telling reporters that both he and Kim would like to make their third face-to-face meeting happening during Trump’s long-planned visit to the DMZ, but that logistics and security issues remain.

He said: “There’s a possibility that it’s going to be very interesting.”


10:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he believes North Korea’s Kim Jong Un wants to meet him when he visits the Demilitarized Zone on Sunday.

Speaking to Korean business leaders in Seoul, South Korea, Trump says, “I understand they want to meet and I’d love to say hello.”

He says if the meeting materializes it will be “very short,” adding, “let’s see what happens. They’re trying to work it out.”

Trump on Saturday invited Kim to meet him for a handshake at the heavily fortified armistice line between the Koreas.

The president has been trying to restart nuclear talks with the North after they broke down during his second summit with Kim earlier this year in Vietnam. The two leaders since have traded what they’ve described as flowery letters.


11:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump and President Moon Jae-in (jah-YIHN’) of South Korea agree that Trump’s possible meeting on Sunday at the Demilitarized Zone with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) would be a “good thing.”

That’s according to a South Korean presidential official, Yoon Do-han, who spoke to reporters in Seoul after the two presidents had dinner.

Yoon says Moon talked about Kim’s commitment to denuclearization, while Trump expressed his “amicable” views on Kim.

Yoon says a Trump-Kim meeting, if it comes off, would help pave the way for the resumption of nuclear diplomacy.


8:45 p.m.

President Donald Trump is being welcomed to South Korea by its president — and one of its biggest K-pop boy bands.

Trump’s met with President Moon Jae-in (jah-YIHN’) at the Blue House, where the South Korean leader has his offices and home.

Trump also met EXO, a star pop group whose members gave the president a book. They also chatted with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The president isn’t saying whether he’ll meet North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) on Sunday at the heavily fortified South Korean-North Korean border known as the DMZ.

Trump is just saying “it will be very interesting” but he’s not giving other details about the surprise trip, which he announced earlier in the day on Twitter.


7:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump has landed in South Korea, and a meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (gihm jung oon) may be on his agenda.

Trump flew from Osaka, Japan, where he attended a global summit and held numerous meetings with world leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn) and China’s Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng).

Trump has said he’ll visit the heavily-fortified Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea, and he’s invited Kim to join him “just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”


2:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump has invited North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to shake hands during a possible visit by Trump to the Demilitarized Zone with South Korea.

Trump made the offer before he left Japan, where he attended a summit of world leaders, and arrived in South Korea.

He tweeted that while he is in South Korea, “if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!”

North Korea responded by calling the offer a “very interesting suggestion.

Trump’s summit with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

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