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Trump shakes hands with Kim Jong Un in historic meeting at Korean DMZ
PANMUNJOM/SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in North Korea on Sunday when he met its leader, Kim Jong Un, in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.
The meeting, initiated by a spur-of-the-moment tweet by Trump that Kim said took him by surprise, once again displayed the rapport between the two. But they are no closer to narrowing the gap between their positions since they walked away from their summit in February in Vietnam.
The two men shook hands warmly and expressed hopes for peace when they met for the third time in just over a year on the old Cold War frontier that for decades has symbolized the hostility between their countries, which are technically still at war.
Trump, escorted by Kim, briefly crossed a military demarcation line into the North side of the Joint Security Area (JSA), patrolled by soldiers from both Koreas.
Moments later, they returned to the southern side and joined South Korea's President Moon Jae-in for a brief chat, marking an unprecedented three-way gathering.
Trump and Kim then held a closed-door meeting for nearly an hour.
"We just had a very, very good meeting," Trump said after the talks. "We'll see what can happen."
He said both sides would set up teams to push forward stalled talks aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, adding "speed is not the thing."
Pope Francis, making his weekly address in St. Peter's Square, praised the meeting. "I salute the protagonists, with a prayer that such a significant gesture will be a further step on the road to peace, not only on that peninsula, but for the good of the entire world," he said.
Trump and Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June last year, and agreed to improve relations and work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
But the second summit in Hanoi broke down after the two sides failed to narrow differences between a U.S. demand for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
'PLENTY OF TIME'
Kim looked relaxed and smiled as he chatted with Trump amidst a throng of press photographers, aides and bodyguards.
Trump said the two leaders "moved mountains" to arrange the last-minute meeting.
"I was surprised to see you expressed an intent to meet," Kim told Trump, referring to Trump's offer for a meeting in a tweet on Saturday. Trump came to South Korea after attending a Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
"This is an expression of his willingness to leave behind the past and work toward a new future," Kim said.
Kim said it would be a great honor if Trump visited his capital of Pyongyang. The two agreed to visit each other's country "at the right time," Trump said.
"To cross that line was a great honor," Trump said, referring to his brief incursion into the North Korean side of the DMZ. "It's a great day for the world."
But there has been little sign that North Korea and the United States are any closer to narrowing differences on the nuclear issue.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters shortly before departing South Korea that a fresh round of talks will likely happen "sometime in July" and the North's negotiators would be foreign ministry diplomats.
"Today's meeting was significant in salvaging faltering working-level talks," said Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.
"But the North wouldn't easily change its stance, even though Trump has effectively responded to the so-called top-down approach cherished by Kim."
Trump said he had "plenty of time" and was in "no rush" to reach a deal.
"We want to get it right," he said.
North Korea has pursued nuclear and missile programs for years in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and easing tensions with North Korea is one of the U.S. president's top foreign policy priorities.
The DMZ was set up after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a truce, leaving North Korea and a U.S.-led U.N. forces still technically at war.
(Story was refiled to add dropped word in paragraph 2)
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Roberta Rampton and Joyce Lee in Panmunjom and Seoul; Philip Pullela at the Vatican; Editing by Jack Kim, Robert Birsel and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.