Vietnam announces visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, ahead of summit with Trump

Vietnamese artist Tran Lam Binh arranges his portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 21, 2019.
Vietnamese artist Tran Lam Binh arranges his portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a cafe in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb 21, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HANOI (REUTERS) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will make an official visit to Vietnam in "coming days", its foreign ministry said on Saturday (Feb 23), as the South-east Asian nation prepares for his summit with US President Donald Trump next week in the capital, Hanoi.

Mr Kim is visiting at the invitation of Mr Nguyen Phu Trong, the president and general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, the ministry said in a statement, but gave no further details.

The Hanoi summit on Feb 27-28 follows the two leaders' historic June meeting in Singapore.

North Korea's state media have yet to confirm either Mr Kim's trip to Vietnam or his summit with Mr Trump.

Vietnam will ban traffic on the road Mr Kim is expected to take to Hanoi from a train station on the Chinese border, state media said.

But it is also preparing a plan to receive Mr Kim by air, a source with direct knowledge of the matter separately told Reuters.

The preferred location for the summit is the Government Guesthouse, a colonial-era building in central Hanoi, three sources told Reuters on Wednesday.  

They said the Metropole Hotel will be a backup location for the summit and Mr Kim could possibly stay in the Melia hotel during his visit. A Reuters witness saw workers laying communication cables in the streets behind the Metropole late on Friday.  

At the same time, some foreign media organisations received a note from Vietnam’s foreign ministry prohibiting live broadcasts in and around the Melia hotel and Hoan Kiem lake in the centre of Hanoi.  

The JW Marriott hotel, where Mr Trump is widely expected to stay, will also be out of bounds to live broadcasts, according to a copy of the note reviewed by Reuters.
 
Several hotels visited by Reuters on Saturday around Hoan Kiem lake, a popular tourist spot in the Vietnamese capital, said they had been told by the authorities to restrict access to their rooftops.