President Trump to meet with North Korean leader in Vietnam

Charlene Craig
February 7, 2019

"Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months", Trump told lawmakers assembled in the House chamber.

Vietnam may seem as an odd choice, but there are reasons - part of them symbolic - for why the communist nation could be the flawless place for the two leaders to meet.

Since last year's Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, North Korea has returned three United States hostages, the remains of USA troops killed during the Korean war, and destroyed a missile testing site which experts suspect had been damaged to the point of no longer being operational.

During their meeting in January - the fourth in less than a year - Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to jointly study the negotiations "on the Korean Peninsula" and on "the denuclearisation" issue in particular.

"We expect that they will take more detailed and substantial steps of progress in Vietnam", presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.

Vietnam and North Korea share a bitter historical enmity with the United States; Pyongyang even sent air force personnel to assist the North Vietnamese communists in their crushing victory over the US -backed South Vietnamese Army.

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The summit, planned for February 27-28, will attempt to further refine an agreement that came out of the first summit in June.

Analysts say the trip, which is set to be Kim's first to Vietnam, could offer the North Korean leader a model of post-war economic transformation under a communist state with capitalist leanings.

During the address, Trump also revealed that he would be meeting with Kim Jong Un in the future, stating, "Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam", he added.

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special envoy to North Korea, was in Pyongyang on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming meeting between the two leaders with his counterpart, Kim Hyok Chol.

The Trump-Kim meet could pay off in more ways than one.

USA logistics officials visited the city last week, a major base for US and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

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According to South Korean media, Kim Jong Un is also impressed by the rise of Vietnam.

Trump said the United States spent a fortune on a base in Iraq.

The North Koreans have been asking for a declaration formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War, an appeal which has won support from the South Korean government and appears to be something to which Trump is prepared to agree. "It is over. It is done".

The United States and Vietnam normalized ties in 1995, decades after the end of the Vietnam War.

Touting good relationship with the North Korean leader, Trump said that progress has been made in his administration's efforts to achieve peace on the Korean peninsula. "It is a very significant process", Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation from the Solomon Islands, where she was visiting.

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