After arriving in South Korea on Sunday morning, Donald Trump said that during his brief visit there he would travel to the Korean Demilitarized Zone — the demarcation boundary between North and South Korea, which lies about 35 miles north of the South Korean capital of Seoul — where he would meet for a third time with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, according to CNN. And indeed, Trump arrived at the DMZ shortly before 3 p.m. local time on Sunday.
But before making the trip to the DMZ, Trump made a claim about his predecessor, Barack Obama, that was immediately contradicted by one of Obama’s top former foreign policy advisers. Trump claimed that while president, Obama was “begging” to meet with Kim, according to ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl reporting via Twitter.
“There were begging for meetings constantly, and Chairman Kim would not meet him,” Trump said, according to an ABC News report.
Ben Rhodes, the Obama administration’s top foreign policy adviser, quickly took to his own Twitter account to deny Trump’s claim, which was also reported as “false” in the ABC News report.
“Trump is lying. I was there for all 8 years,” Rhodes wrote. “Obama never sought a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Foreign policy isn’t reality television it’s reality.”
In fact, the truth was exactly the opposite of the way Trump described it, according to a Los Angeles Times report. It was Kim and his predecessor Kim Jong Il — Kim’s father — who repeatedly sought meetings with Obama and previous U.S. presidents, but were rejected.
“All past presidents, including Obama, had refused to meet unless North Korea made changes in its policies, especially its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” according to the L.A. Times report.
Trump said that his repeated meetings with Kim have shown that he has “a certain chemistry” with the North Korean dictator.
Trump and Kim first met in Singapore in 2018. At that meeting, Kim agreed to reveal the full extent of his country’s nuclear arsenal, but that never happened, and in February of this year, the Trump administration dropped its demand that North Korea disclose its full inventory of nuclear weapons, according to an NBC News report.
In January of this year, a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies identified 20 ballistic missile sites that North Korea had not disclosed, including one such base located about 130 miles north of the DMZ, where Trump stood on Sunday, for his handshake meeting with Kim.
“North Korea is not supposed to have these ballistic missile bases,” one of the report’s authors, Victor Cha, told The Washington Post.