Trump meets Vietnamese president ahead of summit with Kim Jong Un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met in Hanoi on Wednesday for their second summit, with the US president saying he was not walking back on U.S. demands for North Korea’s denuclearisation.
Kim and Trump shook hands and smiled briefly in front of a row of their countries’ flags at the Metropole hotel in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.
Trump’s courtesy call to the host nation’s leadership is meant to provide Kim with a visualization of a potential future should he give up his country’s nuclear weapons in a deal with the U.S.
After a decade of bloody conflict that ended more than four decades ago, the U.S. and Vietnam are now economic and strategic partners.Trump said Vietnam is thriving economically and that North Korea could, too, if it would give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Trump told reporters he thought the talks would be very successful, while he was “not walking back on denuclearisation”.
Before sitting down with Kim later Wednesday in Hanoi, Trump tweeted that “North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize. The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un.”
Official greetings between Trump and the normally reclusive Kim will give way to a short one-on-one discussion before what’s being described as a social dinner with an exclusive guest list.
The White House said Trump will be joined at the dinner by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Kim, too, will have two aides with him, and there will be translators for each side.
Kim, who arrived in Hanoi first, spent Tuesday travelling around the Vietnamese capital in his limousine. With a squad of bodyguards in tow, he visited sections of Hanoi, including his nation’s embassy where a loud cheer went up as he entered the compound.
As host, Vietnam is eager to show off its huge economic and development improvements since the destruction of the Vietnam War. But the country also tolerates no dissent and is able to provide the kind of firm hand not allowed by more democratic potential hosts.
— Jonathan Cheng (@JChengWSJ) February 27, 2019
That first meeting between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader ended with great fanfare but little substance over how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
US intelligence officials have said there is no sign North Korea will ever give up its entire arsenal of nuclear weapons, which it sees as its guarantee of national security. Analysts say it won’t commit to significant disarmament unless punishing US-led economic sanctions are eased.
In the run-up to the summit, Trump has indicated a more flexible stance, saying he was in no rush to secure North Korea’s denuclearisation. He has held out the prospect of easing sanctions if North Korea does something “meaningful”.
The two sides have discussed specific and verifiable denuclearisation measures, such as allowing inspectors to observe the dismantlement of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, US and South Korean officials say.
US concessions could include opening liaison offices, ending the war or clearing the way for inter-Korean projects.
Any deal will face scrutiny from American lawmakers and other sceptics who doubt North Korea is willing to give up the weapons.