President Donald Trump’s blitz meeting with Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone between the Korean nations on June 30 was planned ahead by the two sides, the Asahi reported, citing unnamed U.S. and North Korean diplomats.
Trump suggested the DMZ meeting in a letter to the North Korean leader, which was sent to Pyongyang in June by a senior US official, the Japanese newspaper said. The North Korean side agreed to give a “sign” if the meeting were to go ahead, according to the report.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a statement that month that a letter was sent by the president. Kim said the letter had “excellent content,” state media KCNA reported at the time.
The day before the summit, while in Japan for the G-20 gathering, Trump tweeted about his willingness to cross the border to meet Kim. He said he “put out a feeler” and that he didn’t know where Kim was at the time. Hours later, North Korean diplomat Choe Son Hui called Trump’s tweet “a very interesting suggestion.” According to Asahi, that was the signal to the U.S.’s special envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, to begin preparations for the meeting.
While Trump has met Kim twice before at summits in Singapore and Hanoi, no U.S. president had ever sat down with a North Korean leader at the DMZ. Kim said he was “surprised” by Trump’s request to meet, and called the U.S. president’s short walk over the demarcation line into North Korea “a very courageous and determined act.”