President Donald Trump on Saturday invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet him in the Korean demilitarised zone when he visits the peninsula over the next two days, setting up a potential third summit though it was unclear whether the presidential tweet represented a serious overture.
Trump made the offer in a morning tweet ahead of a second day of meetings at the Group of 20 summit here.
"After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon)," Trump wrote. "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(?)!"
White House aides have reportedly been working to arrange a visit for Trump to the DMZ, the heavily fortified area along the 38th parallel that has divided North and South Korea since the armistice that ended combat in the Korean War in 1953.
Past presidents have made the trip to talk to U.S. troops and peer through binoculars into enemy territory. Trump attempted to visit during a trip to Korea in November 2017, but the plan was aborted after Marine One encountered bad weather, forcing it to return to Seoul.
A senior administration official, briefing reporters ahead of Trump's trip to Asia, indicated that no meeting between him and Kim was on the schedule.
"There are no plans for the meeting that you just mentioned," the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, told reporters. "The President is there to see President Moon. Of course, they're going to talk about North Korea and they're going to talk about the U.S.-South Korea alliance. But, you know, they've got a lot of ground to cover in two days. And then he's coming back to D.C."
Trump and Kim met in Singapore in June 2018, then held a second summit in Hanoi in February but talks collapsed after the two sides failed to bridge divides over North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Pyongyang offered to shutter one nuclear facility in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions, while the Trump administration demanded that the North relinquish its entire program.
Since then, there has been little communication, except for an exchange of personal letters between Kim and Trump over the past several weeks.
Trump is scheduled to depart Tokyo on Saturday evening for Seoul, where he will spend one night before returning to Washington.