Trump's press staff moved from Hanoi hotel that may house North Korea's Kim

Police officers in front of the Melia Hotel ahead of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 25, 2019.
Police officers in front of the Melia Hotel ahead of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 25, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG, DPA) - President Donald Trump's media headquarters for his summit with Mr Kim Jong Un was forced to abruptly move from a Hanoi hotel where the North Korean leader may be staying on Tuesday (Feb 26), according to Vietnamese authorities.

Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet that the White House media centre would move from the Melia hotel downtown to the location of the international media centre a few blocks away.

The abrupt move prompted CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta to tweet: “Translation: The US press is being booted out of the hotel where we have spent days setting up our workspace.”

His CNN colleague, Mr Will Ripley, complained: “Kim Jong Un continues calling the shots, whether in North Korea or Vietnam. The US wanted the summit in Da Nang, which already had secret service clearance for APEC, Kim wanted Hanoi.”

“Flying would’ve caused far less rail & road disruption, Kim insisted on his train. Now this...,” Mr Ripley added.

The journalists were allowed just one hour to move their equipment and other personal belongings, Mr Ripley said.

Washington Post reporter John Hudson also blamed the last-minute switch on Mr Kim, saying the North Korean leader “doesn’t want the American press filing centre at the same hotel he’s staying at".

The Melia was ringed with security early on Tuesday and access to the property was severely restricted.

Armed soldiers and two large military vehicles were stationed outside. Mr Kim's bodyguards and staff were seen inside the hotel, some hotel floors were blocked off and US and North Korean flags were on display outside.

 
 

The Melia informed guests on Monday that they would have to endure heightened security "due to the visit of a Head of State staying at our hotel". The hotel didn't identify the person.

In addition to the White House media centre, the hotel is also housing many US journalists who travelled to Hanoi to cover the summit.

The White House hasn't said where Mr Kim is staying or where in the city the summit will take place.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim will kick off their meetings on Wednesday evening with what White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called a "social dinner".