Trump, Kim may hold second summit in Hanoi

Denuclearisation talks have sputtered since US President Donald Trump (right) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Singapore in June, 2018.
Denuclearisation talks have sputtered since US President Donald Trump (right) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Singapore in June, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL • US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could meet in Vietnam's capital for their second summit on Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported yesterday.

Denuclearisation talks have sputtered since Mr Trump and Mr Kim held an unprecedented meeting in Singapore last June, with Washington and Pyongyang each calling on the other to take action.

A second summit could address concerns on global security after Mr Kim piled pressure on Mr Trump by threatening in his annual New Year's address to take a "new path" if the US didn't relax economic sanctions.

US officials have met their North Korean counterparts in Hanoi for discussions to adjust scheduling for the talks, the newspaper said, citing high-level diplomatic sources in Seoul and Washington it did not identify. Government officials have not commented. Such a summit would be bound to grab global attention and help boost the profile of the host nation.

But it also presents enormous security challenges for Mr Trump, the leader of the world's biggest economy, and Mr Kim, head of arguably one of the world's most paranoid states.

Vietnam is a longstanding ally of North Korea that has good relations with the US. Speculation about the country's prospects as a summit site grew following North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's visit there from Nov 29 to Dec 2.

The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo previously reported that Mr Mark Lambert, a senior US State Department official handling North Korea issues, had visited Vietnam last month.

Mr Trump previously said he planned to hold a second meeting with Mr Kim as early as this month, although a date and location have not yet been announced. Other places floated as hosts include Singapore, Mongolia and Switzerland.

It was unclear whether he was in Vietnam at the same time as North Korea's Foreign Minister.

Hanoi - about a four-hour direct flight from Pyongyang and in airspace over countries friendly to North Korea - boasts several top-class hotels.

Vietnam's ruling Communist Party also has the security apparatus to squelch protests and keep curious onlookers far away from Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

 

Mr Trump previously said he planned to hold a second meeting with Mr Kim as early as this month, although a date and location have not yet been announced.

Other places floated as hosts include Singapore, Mongolia and Switzerland.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2019, with the headline 'Trump, Kim may hold second summit in Hanoi'. Print Edition | Subscribe