It was a historic photo-op no doubt, but the unprecedented and impromptu encounter between North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and U.S. president Donald Trump at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North from South Korea Sunday does nothing to significantly advance denuclearization talks stalled since February.
Scurrying photographers and security men rushing to and fro formed the backdrop for the first off-the-cuff meeting between both leaders since Trump walked-out of their second summit in Hanoi in February after making an all or nothing demand Kim rejected.
Trump shook hands with Kim at the DMZ. He later took 20 steps inside the communist country, becoming the first incumbent U.S. president to enter North Korea.
"It's a great honor to be here," said Trump during his face-to-face with Kim at the DMZ. "I feel great."
"I never expected to meet you at this place," said Kim about his meeting with Trump at the DMZ.
Political analysts later said the 50 minute-long Kim-Trump DMZ tête-à-tête only achieved a promise to restart hampered denuclearization talks. Trump said both countries' negotiating teams might begin meeting in a matter of weeks.
He said U.S. negotiators will be led by the current U.S. special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun. Trump wished Biegun luck. U.S. officials later said only low-level delegations will get the ball rolling.
Trump has said again and again he's in no rush to immediately eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons, which was his main demand in his first two failed summits with Kim.
The new announcement followed an hour-long closed-door meeting inside South Korea between Kim and Trump at Panmunjom, the village where the truce that ended fighting in the Korean War was signed on July 27, 1953. Upon leaving the talks with Kim, Trump said the meeting was "very, very good."
Trump also invited Kim to visit the White House.
"I'm not sure what it is that President Trump is trying to accomplish, because while all this engagement has gone on, there has been no decline in the stockpile of North Korean nuclear weapons or missiles," said Joseph Yun, former U.S. special representative for North Korea.
Yun said Sunday's DMZ spectacle was "a lot of theater," noting Kim won't give up the nuclear weapons he sees as vital to his regime's survival.
But he also told CNN the U.S. and North Korea "need to reduce tensions" while taking concrete steps to realize this key aim.
For his part, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson noted Kim has had three meetings with Trump and has so far given up-nothing to Trump while enhancing his prestige on the world stage. He said the DMZ encounter was good for both leaders at a personal level but the hard work to get denuclearization talks going "has to begin."
Richardson labeled the DMZ meeting as "just a photo-op diplomacy by tweet."
On the other hand, official North Korean media called the Kim-Trump DMZ meeting "amazing" and "dramatic." It said Kim's good personal relations with Trump made this meeting possible at such short notice. Bizarrely, North Korean media referred to Trump as the "supreme leader" of the U.S.
This article was first published in IBTimes US. Permission required for reproduction.