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After G-20 Summit, Trump Holds Talks With North Korea's Leader


It appeared to be a casual invitation in the form of a tweet. Basically, hey, Kim Jong Un - President Trump here - I'm going to be in your neighborhood. If you have time, come say hi. He did. And after shaking hands, President Trump walked out of the demilitarized zone and onto North Korean soil.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I just want to say that this is my honor. I didn't really expect it. We were in Japan for the G-20. We came over, and I said, hey, I'm over here. I want to call Chairman Kim. And we got to meet. And stepping across that line was a great honor. A lot of progress has been made.

MARTIN: So where do talks stand now? NPR's Scott Horsley was traveling with the president on his G-20 trip when he made that visit to North Korea.

Hi, Scott.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Great to be with you, Rachel.

MARTIN: So does the autocratic leader of North Korea just swing by the DMZ to say hi to the president of the United States?

HORSLEY: You know, the White House may have exaggerated the impromptu nature of this meeting, perhaps to lower the stakes if things had gone badly or if Kim had not shown up. Trump told reporters on Saturday that he just had the idea that morning to extend the invitation. And as late as Sunday morning, White House officials were still saying they weren't sure the North Korean leader would actually show up for the get-together. Of course, Kim did show up. They had that dramatic photo-op of the president stepping over the border. And then the two men went back to the South Korean side and wound up meeting for nearly an hour.

MARTIN: What'd they talk about?

HORSLEY: They agreed to restart talks over North Korea's outlawed nuclear program. They said they would appoint negotiating teams to do that within the next few weeks. Of course, they've had those teams before, and they haven't been able to resolve the fundamental differences over how and when North Korea's nukes should be dismantled. The president says, for now, U.S. sanctions will remain in place against North Korea. But he did leave the door open to some sanctions relief in the future.

MARTIN: I understand the president said he would invite Kim Jong Un to the White House.

HORSLEY: He was asked by reporters if he'd be willing to do that and he said, sort of reflexively, sure - much the same way he said sure when asked if he'd be willing to step across the border into North Korea. You know, the president likes these bold gestures. He likes the spectacle. It's the nitty-gritty of the details where he sometimes gets tripped up.

MARTIN: So there was obviously a lot of attention on that meeting, that moment. But President Trump had several other big meetings when he was at the G-20. That included talks with China's President Xi Jinping. What can you tell us about those?

HORSLEY: They did not resolve the basic trade war between the U.S. and China, but they did agree not to escalate it. They agreed to resume trade negotiations, which had been on the skids since May when the Trump administration accused China of backtracking on earlier commitments. And the president agreed not to move forward with another round of costly tariffs on some $300 billion worth of Chinese imports.

That's a relief to shoppers who would've faced higher prices for a lot of Chinese-made consumer items. But it still leaves tariffs in place on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, as well as China's tariffs on U.S. exports.

MARTIN: And I understand the president also made a statement about the Chinese telecom company Huawei.

HORSLEY: He said Huawei is complicated, and it is. You know, U.S. security experts worry that the company, which makes cellphones and a lot of the hardware behind high-tech communications networks, could become a conduit for spying by the Chinese government, and that's been a concern.

For the moment, President Trump will continue to allow U.S. tech firms to supply high-tech components to Huawei even though the company is officially blacklisted. And he says he and Xi have agreed to leave off some of the stickier Huawei items for later in the trade negotiations.

MARTIN: One more question about the G-20, Scott - the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was at the G-20 despite a lot of international concern about the crown prince's alleged role in the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Do we know if questions about Khashoggi's death came up at all between President Trump and the crown prince?

HORSLEY: Trump says Mohammed bin Salman told him about the discipline that the Saudis themselves have meted out to people who carried out Khashoggi's killing. But there was apparently no discussion of the crown prince's own culpability. Trump and the crown prince ignored shouted questions about that during their very high-profile photo-op. We should say, the crown prince was very much front and center throughout the G-20 meeting.

MARTIN: NPR's Scott Horsley for us this morning.

Thanks, Scott.

HORSLEY: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.