By SUPALAK GANJANAKHUNDEE
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un following a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 27, 2019. // AFP PHOTO
Trump and Kim kicked off the highly anticipated second summit meeting here with a brief private chat before dinner at the French colonial era Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and an interpreter will attend the dinner, according to the White House.
The contents of the meeting was not known as of press time, but President Trump tweeted before the meeting that North Korea could enjoy development success similar to that of summit host and communist comrade Vietnam if Pyongyang gave up its nuclear ambition.
“Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearise,” Trump tweeted.
“The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un. We will know fairly soon – Very Interesting!”
Kim, who arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday by train, is to spend his time in the country not only meeting with Trump but also on an official goodwill visit to explore development until Saturday, according to state-run Korean Central News Agency.
While Kim reportedly concentrated on preparations for the summit, senior officials of his delegation led by ruling party’s Politburo member Ri Su Yong yesterday were seen in the tourist destination of Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh province some 150 kilometres east of Hanoi.
US President Donald Trump (R) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un sit for a dinner at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 27, 2019. // AFP PHOTO
Meanwhile, President Trump met separately yesterday with Vietnamese leaders President Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to warm up US-Vietnam relations, and expressed his gratitude for Vietnam’s hospitality.
Trump first visited Vietnam in 2017 for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in the central city of Danang, where he had spelled out his Indo-Pacific Strategy to adjust the US position in a region undergoing changing geo-politics.
Vietnam looks to cash in on the Trump-Kim summit to not only raise its international profile, but also take the opportunity to build closer ties with Washington. Trump told Vietnamese leaders that “it’s a very important summit in Vietnam because you really are an example of what can happen with good thinking”.
Several aviation deals were signed yesterday as Vietnam’s growing budget airlines Bamboo Airways and Vietjet agreed to buy a number of Boeing aircraft for their fleets.
Trump is expected to meet with Kim five times this week to talk about denuclearising the Korean peninsula. The White House wants this summit to end with concrete results today. The Hanoi Declaration is being prepared to mark the final outcome, as the summit ends today.
US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 27, 2019. // AFP PHOTO
Issues on the table include a declaration to officially end the 1950-1953 Korean War, closure of the Yongbyon nuclear facilities, as well as the lifting of international sanctions against the secretive regime in Pyongyang, but no one can speculate how far the two sides can go.
Washington wants to see a complete and verified demolition of nuclear projects in North Korea, while Pyongyang wants to have sanctions lifted and bring to an end the Korean War. The war ceased more than half a century ago after a ceasefire agreement but without a peace pact, North Korea is technically still at war with the US.