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Trump says open to meeting North Korea's Kim at DMZ

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US President Donald Trump said Saturday he was open to meeting Kim Jong Un at the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea while on a trip to Seoul this weekend.

[OSAKA] US President Donald Trump said Saturday he was open to meeting Kim Jong Un at the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea while on a trip to Seoul this weekend.

"After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). 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 from Japan's Osaka, where he is attending the G-20 summit.

The surprise offer came amid a recent flurry of diplomacy over North Korea's nuclear programme after a Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi collapsed without an agreement.

After several months of public silence, an exchange of letters between the leaders appeared to have thawed the deep-freeze and raised hopes for a third summit meeting after a historic first tete-a-tete in Singapore on June 12, 2018 and the second in Hanoi in February.

Mr Trump will be heading to Seoul immediately after the G-20 summit in Osaka, where on Saturday he will hold a highly anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a bid to ease trade tensions between the world's top two economies.

According to South Korea's Unification minister, the two leaders have exchanged a total of 12 letters since the beginning of last year, with Kim the more assiduous suitor in their nuclear bromance, penning eight of those.

Last week, Mr Xi visited Pyongyang for a highly symbolic summit with Kim. Analysts say that diplomatic breakthroughs often follow on from such meetings.

The Hanoi summit foundered amid disagreements on what the North would be willing to give up in exchange for sanctions relief.

The two sides blamed each other for the breakdown but Washington has said they are prepared to meet the North Koreans at any time without preconditions to keep diplomacy alive.

'NOTHING COULD HAPPEN' 

Apparently voicing his frustration at the diplomatic stalemate, Kim fired off several short-range "projectiles" that Mr Trump shrugged off.

The North last carried out a missile test in November 2017, before a rapid diplomatic rapprochement saw tensions ease on the peninsula and produced a series of summits.

The DMZ was witness to extraordinary scenes during a summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In when the North's young leader yanked his counterpart across the border line in an emotional symbol of unity after decades of aggression.

Writing on Twitter, analyst Ankit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists said: "I guess the best case outcome is that a meeting happens and some of the non-denuclearisation matters that had been agreed in Hanoi... see progress."

He cited a possible declaration of the end of the Korean War that technically ended with a ceasefire, as well as the establishment of liaison offices as a first step towards normalising ties between the historic foes.

"Of course, nothing could happen at all too," said Mr Panda.

AFP