President Trump departed from Osaka, Japan, for Seoul, South Korea, on Saturday, June 29, having concluded an agenda at the G-20 summit that included high-profile meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Party Secretary Xi Jinping.
Trump will be spending two days with Korean President Moon Jae-in, who is hosting the U.S. delegation at a banquet at the Blue House, where the South Korean leader resides and holds private meetings.
Prior to departing from Osaka, Trump met with reporters and answered questions for more than an hour. He described his meeting to discuss trade with Xi as “a great meeting,” and concluded, “We will be continuing to negotiate, and I agree that, at least for the time being, we’re not going to be lifting tariffs on China. They have an addition $350 billion that could be tariffed, and we’re not doing that.”
When asked by a Chinese reporter whether he viewed China as a competitor, a strategic partner, or a threat, Trump replied, “I think we’re going to be strategic partners. I think we can help each other. I think that if the right deal is structured, we can be great for each other.”
Trump continued, “If China would open up [its market], you’re opening up a tremendous market, the largest market in the world, and right now China’s not open to the United States, but we’re open to China. That should have never really been allowed to happen.”
President Trump raised eyebrows Saturday morning when he used Twitter to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet on short notice, suggesting that the two leaders could meet at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the South Korean border to “shake hands.” Trump said he’d even be willing to cross over onto North Korean soil, a gesture that no American president has made before.
The invitation to Kim Jong Un was impromptu and could potentially lead to a brief meeting later tomorrow afternoon, if last-minute arrangements are made. The South Korean president has encouraged a meeting between Trump and Kim Jong Un after the previous North Korean summit fell apart over failed negotiations to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear development program.