Trump-Kim Hanoi summit: Leaders voice hopes for successful talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump met in Hanoi on Wednesday for their second summit, eight months after they pledged to work towards the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and improve ties.
Experienced North Korea hand, and the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson, tells Reuters the Trump administration should proceed with caution, and not give away too much in its talks with North Korea.
The international media centre in Hanoi set up for the Trump-Kim talks is a 24-hour facility that caters to 3,000 journalists from 40 countries. There is a buffet spread for meals, as well as traditional street food, and free tours for the press.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump at their dinner meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi yesterday. With them are (clockwise from far left) North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho; Mr Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman o
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump at their dinner meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi yesterday. With them are (clockwise from far left) North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho; Mr Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea; Mr Kim Jong Un's interpreter Sin Hye Yong; Mr Trump's interpreter Lee Yun-hyang; US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. The two leaders will continue their bilateral meeting today.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Both countries have made much progress since first summit last June, says Trump

United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have voiced hopes for successful talks, as they sat down for their first dinner together in Vietnam last night.

They were reunited in a colonial hotel in the heart of capital city Hanoi, eight months after their first summit in Singapore.

Posing for the media in front of a row of flags, the two men exchanged smiles and a handshake, with quick pats on each other's arms.

Mr Trump said he was looking forward to a "very successful" summit.

"It is great to be with you. We had a very successful first summit," he told Mr Kim. "Some people wanted to see it go quicker, but I am satisfied, you are satisfied."

Mr Trump said that both countries have "made a lot of progress" since the first summit last June, during which they signed a four-point agreement to build new ties, establish a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, work towards complete denuclearisation and return war remains.

The biggest progress, he added, is that "our relationship is really a good one".

Mr Kim said "agonising effort and patience were needed more than ever before" in the past few months, but "we have been able to overcome all the obstacles and here we are today".

Mr Trump promised a "tremendous future" for North Korea, which he said has unlimited economic potential under "a great leader" like Mr Kim.

Mr Kim, in return, praised Mr Trump's "courageous decision" to initiate the second summit, and added that he would do his best to produce a "great outcome" that is welcomed by everyone.

The North Korean leader is seeking to break the deadlock that arose after the Singapore summit due to differences in the two countries' approach towards denuclearisation.

Washington has stood firm on maintaining pressure and sanctions until Pyongyang takes concrete action towards denuclearisation. Pyongyang, however, is pushing for corresponding measures such as economic concessions.

Mr Kim said "agonising effort and patience were needed more than ever before" in the past few months, but "we have been able to overcome all the obstacles and here we are today".

Mr Trump promised a "tremendous future" for North Korea, which he said has unlimited economic potential under "a great leader" like Mr Kim.

"I look forward to watching it happen and helping it to happen," added Mr Trump.

 
 
 

The two leaders were joined by close aides, including US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and vice-chairman of North Korea's ruling party Kim Yong Chol for their dinner and chat, which lasted more than two hours.

Hundreds of curious onlookers lined the streets leading to their dinner venue at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, while plainclothes policemen stood quietly among the crowds.

A few supporters held up signs reading: "Welcome President Donald Trump to Vietnam."

When The Straits Times spoke to one of the supporters, two men in uniform approached and moved them away, before asking the reporter for her passport and her notebook.

They questioned her and took a photograph of her notes before letting her go.

Bank executive Nguyen Huy Tung was waving a North Korea flag that his father had brought home from Pyongyang, where he had worked as an architect for five years.

"I am here to welcome both Chairman Kim and President Trump. The two leaders are very interesting and all of Vietnam is excited to be hosting this summit and very proud," said the 30-year-old.

The two leaders will continue their bilateral meeting today.

Mr Trump is expected to leave Hanoi this evening.

Mr Kim will stay on for meetings with the Vietnamese leadership tomorrow and on Saturday.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2019, with the headline 'Leaders voice hopes for successful talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe