President Donald Trump became the first sitting US president to set foot in North Korea today when he met its leader, Kim Jong Un, in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas and agreed to resume stalled nuclear talks.
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 symbolised the hostility between their countries, which are technically still at war.
Mr Trump, escorted by Mr Kim, briefly crossed a military demarcation line into the North.
Moments later, they returned to the South Korean side and joined South Korea's President Moon Jae-in for a brief chat, marking an unprecedented three-way gathering.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim then held a closed-door meeting for nearly an hour.
"The meeting was a very good one, very strong ... We agreed to work out details," Mr Trump said. "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 he was in no rush for a deal.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim met for the first time in Singapore in June last year, and agreed to improve relations and work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
But there has been little progress since then.
A second summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February broke down after the two sides failed to narrow differences between a US demand for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and a North Korean demand for sanctions relief.
Mr Kim looked relaxed and smiled as he chatted with Mr Trump amidst a throng of press photographers, aides and bodyguards.
"I was surprised to see your message that you wanted to meet me," he told Mr Trump, referring to Mr Trump's Saturday offer, in a Twitter posting, to meet.
"This is an expression of his willingness" to work towards a new future, Mr Kim said.
Mr Kim said it would be a great honour if Mr Trump visited his capital of Pyongyang.
"To cross that line was a great honour," Mr Trump said, referring to his brief incursion into the North Korean side of the DMZ.
"It's a great day for the world," he said.
"We moved mountains" to arrange the meeting at such short notice, he said.
Mr Trump arrived in South Korea late on Saturday for talks with Mr Moon after attending a Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, during which he made the surprise, spur-of-the-moment offer to meet Mr Kim, who accepted it.
Mr Trump and Mr Kim met in the so-called Joint Security Area (JSA), which is patrolled by soldiers from both Koreas. Mr Moon joined the two after their initial handshakes.
Mr 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 programmes for years in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions, and easing tensions with North Korea is one of the US 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 US-led UN forces still technically at war.
Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka - a White House adviser - is part of his entourage at the DMZ, along with her husband Jared Kushner. They were in the room for Mr Trump and Mr Kim's chat.
Mr Moon said earlier a handshake between Mr Trump and Mr Kim at the DMZ would be a historic event, and would give hope for progress in their dialogue.
"It would set a significant milestone in the process of achieving complete denuclearisation and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula," Mr Moon told Mr Trump.
Mr Kim and Mr Moon held their historic first summit in the zone last year, which preceded the first US-North Korean summit in Singapore in June last year.
Mr Moon has championed efforts to end hostilities between North Korea and the United States, vowing to play a mediator role in nudging North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief and security guarantees.
Some South Korean analysts said a Trump-Kim encounter would do little to advance progress on denuclearisation.
"Trump is trying to get a free hand in controlling peace on the Korean peninsula with his tweets and we can't let that happen," said Kim Dong-yup of Kyungnam University's Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.
"It's a strategy and technique he adopted to deal with those who are in a weak position in negotiations, and that's for domestic politics."
- Reuters / BBC