HANOI (AFP) - Vietnam's premier has said his country is willing to host a much-anticipated second summit between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
One of North Korea's top generals, Mr Kim Yong Chol, is expected to meet Mr Trump at the White House on Friday (Jan 18) to hash out details of a second meeting with Mr Kim, including a potential venue.
The second round of talks follow a historic summit in Singapore last year and are aimed at denuclearisation and ending decades of enmity between the two nations.
Vietnam has cropped up in the swirl of rumours and conjecture over a possible site for the meeting, with the capital Hanoi or the coastal city of Danang seemingly the most likely bases for the summit.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he would be open to hosting it.
"We don't know the final decision. However, if it happens here, we will do our best to facilitate the meeting," he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
"Vietnam has cooperated well with the US in developing economic and trade relations, as well as in other areas."
A Vietnamese government source who wished to remain anonymous told AFP "logistical preparations" were under way for a Trump-Kim summit although "no official decision" had been made.
"There is lots of work to be done, not only for Danang but some other locations for the event. The Vietnamese side is ready to host... but it is not up to us to decide."
Like several other South-east Asian countries, Vietnam maintains diplomatic ties with both communist-run Pyongyang and Washington and is keen to host major global events as it tries to project a more confident global profile.
Communist Vietnam hosted a major Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in the central city of Danang in 2017 attended by global leaders, including Mr Trump.
Hanoi welcomed North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho in November for a visit reportedly aimed at sharing lessons from its economic success story.
The Foreign Ministry told AFP that Vietnam "supports constructive efforts to solve disputes through peaceful dialogue... on the Korean peninsula in particular", in a statement earlier this month.
Mr Trump has said he is eager to meet Mr Kim again after their historic summit last June, the first-ever meeting between two sitting leaders from two countries that never formally ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
The leaders agreed on a vaguely worded statement in which Mr Kim pledged to work towards "the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".
But progress has since stalled, with the two sides disagreeing over what that means.
Mr Kim is hoping for an easing of international sanctions but the US insists on maintaining maximum pressure until Pyongyang moves forward on giving up its nuclear weapons.