Posted: 2019-07-05 15:06:30

President Donald Trump became the first sitting American president to cross into North Korea this week. He tweeted that he would be in the area and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took him up on the offer.

But Uri Friedman from The Atlantic explains that the apparent ease with which the president stepped across the Demilitarized Zone wasn’t always the case.

For decades, American or South Korean officials hoping to speak with North Korean officials have faced a drawn-out, frustrating process. There are telephones, for example, on either side of the Joint Security Area between North and South Korea, but the North Koreans would rarely pick up. So when United States and South Korean officials in the area needed to send a message to North Korea, they would place a call to their counterparts even though they knew it was a lost cause, walk up to the border and kindly request to no one in particular that they answer the phone, call again without success, and then return to the border, where this time they would encounter a few North Korean soldiers with a handheld camera to record the message as it was read aloud. This happened dozens of times a year. Quite recently. “It’s very convoluted,” one UN official admitted to me as I headed to the demilitarized zone in 2018.

The outcome of the meeting could be a reset on denuclearization talks, efforts which stalled out earlier this year.

And Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said that Iran would step up its uranium enrichment capabilities this weekend, exceeding the cap set on the country by the Iran nuclear deal.

This follows a tense June in which Iran shot down an American drone. The U.S. also blamed Iran for explosions on oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

And protestors in Hong Kong have kept up the pressure on mainland China after the government walked back a proposed extradition bill. The demonstrations turned violent when a group of activists marched on the legislature. The New York Times reported that the group “smashed glass walls and spray-painted slogans in the inner chamber,” and that the group occupied the room for several hours.

Observers around the world are waiting to see how Beijing will respond.

More from The Times:

After weeks of relative restraint, officials in Beijing have also begun to warn of grave repercussions. A spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, warned that the defacing of the legislature was “a blatant challenge” to Beijing’s red line: its sovereignty over the territory.

And an airstrike on a detention camp for migrants in Libya reportedly has killed over 40 people. The UN has called for an investigation into the strike, which is largely believed to be the actions of General Khalifa Haftar.

More from The Associated Press:

It refocused attention and raised questions about the European Union’s policy of cooperating with the militias that hold migrants in crowded and squalid detention centers to prevent them from crossing the Mediterranean to seek better lives in Europe. Most of them were apprehended by the Libyan coast guard, which is funded and trained by the EU to stem the flow of migrants.

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