HANOI • Hopes for a productive summit grew as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump arrived hours apart in Vietnam yesterday, cheered on by crowds in the capital Hanoi.
The two men are scheduled to meet today and embark on their second round of talks aimed at implementing North Korea's pledge to give up its nuclear weapons.
Mr Kim arrived by train early in the day after a three-day journey from his capital Pyongyang, through China.
Wearing his trademark Mao-style black suit, Mr Kim disembarked from his personal olive-green armoured train at Dong Dang station, after he crossed the border from China, and was greeted by Vietnamese officials.
A military guard of honour in pristine white uniforms presented arms as Mr Kim strolled down the red carpet waving and grinning, surrounded by a phalanx of aides and security personnel.
Dong Dang station had been cordoned off since Monday, with soldiers and police positioned outside.
The station received a last-minute facelift, with licks of fresh paint and new potted plants, for Mr Kim's brief welcoming ceremony.
Mr Kim's sister Kim Yo Jong, who has emerged as an important aide, arrived with him.
Also there to meet the North Korean leader were Mr Kim Hyok Chol, who is the recently appointed counterpart of US North Korea envoy Stephen Biegun, and Mr Kim Chang Son, who is Mr Kim Jong Un's de facto chief of staff.
Ms Hoang Thi Thuy, a local official from the Dong Dang women's union, said she had waited in the cold rain since before dawn for a glimpse of Mr Kim.
"I was so excited when we were told to stand in place for the arrival of the train... When the train arrived, we saw the leader from afar. Seeing that, I felt so happy. It is hard to describe," said Ms Thuy.
Mr Kim was later ushered into a black Mercedes-Benz, his arm emerging from a rolled-down window to wave to onlookers.
Twelve bodyguards jogged alongside Mr Kim's car as he left the train station for Hanoi, where armoured personnel carriers patrolled the roads amid ultra-tight security.
In Hanoi, Mr Kim was greeted by cheering crowds behind barriers near the colonial-era pastel yellow Hanoi Opera House before arriving at the Melia Hanoi hotel, where he is staying this week. Hours later, he departed for the North Korean Embassy in Hanoi, echoing the summit in Singapore, where he took in the sights on an unscheduled sortie.
Mr Trump took a more conventional route to the meeting, touching down on Air Force One, just before 9pm local time (10pm Singapore time) after flying halfway around the world from Washington.
Ahead of his departure for Vietnam, Mr Trump on Monday tweeted that he was looking forward to a very productive second summit.
He also dangled the carrot of economic progress for North Korea if it gives up its nuclear programme. "With complete denuclearisation, North Korea will rapidly become an economic powerhouse... Chairman Kim will make a wise decision."
Their talks come eight months after the historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.
While the first meeting was all about breaking the ice after decades of war and bitter animosity, this time, there will be pressure to move beyond the vaguely worded commitment they made in Singapore to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
Both leaders will meet at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, a luxury hotel with a rich history, in the heart of the capital, Yonhap reported.
Mr Kim's summit with Mr Trump is scheduled to begin with a private dinner this evening, the White House announced, followed by a series of official meetings tomorrow.
Mr Trump will be joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney for the dinner. Mr Kim will also have two aides present, and both men will have translators.
Mr Trump is scheduled to meet Vietnam's leaders today before his dinner with Mr Kim.
Mr Kim's schedule in Vietnam has not been publicly announced.
Diplomats based in Hanoi said Mr Kim might visit the industrial town of Haiphong and the nearby picturesque tourist site of Ha Long Bay, where limestone karsts rise out of emerald seas.
"On his train trip back, Chairman Kim can drop by Beijing and debrief President Xi Jinping on the outcome of the second summit," said Dr Cheong Seong-chang, an expert at South Korea's Sejong Institute.
Mr Trump will fly straight back to Washington after the summit.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG
Hanoi rolls out the red carpet for Kim and Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump arrived yesterday in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi for their second summit, which is being watched closely for tangible progress on the North's nuclear programme. After a three-day train journey from Pyongyang, Mr Kim arrived at the border station of Dong Dang to a red-carpet welcome that included an honour guard and military band. He later set off by car for Hanoi. Mr Trump arrived at Noi Bai International Airport yesterday evening, waving as he disembarked from Air Force One, and was met by senior Vietnamese officials. His motoracade passed crowds waving the flags of Vietnam, the US and North Korea on its way to the JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi, where he is staying.