Second Trump-Kim summit set for month-end in Vietnam

North Korea has refrained from testing missiles or nuclear devices since Mr Kim and Mr Trump met at a summit in Singapore in June 2018.
North Korea has refrained from testing missiles or nuclear devices since Mr Kim and Mr Trump met at a summit in Singapore in June 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

Trump reveals summit plan in State of the Union address; seaside city of Da Nang a likely venue

President Donald Trump and North Korea's Chairman Kim Jong Un are set to meet in Vietnam from Feb 27 to 28, President Donald Trump told Congress in his second State of the Union address.

"As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean peninsula," Mr Trump said in the annual speech, mandated by the Constitution, to a joint sitting of Congress. "Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months.

"If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed.

"Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on Feb 27 and 28 in Vietnam."

The remarks came in a wide-ranging speech close to 11/2 hours long, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence seated behind the President on the dais of the House. It was his first since the opposition Democrats wrested back control of the House in midterm elections last November.

Mr Trump, interrupted by frequent applause and occasional chants of "USA!" from Republicans, stressed his achievements, including a vigorous economy and record employment. And he challenged Congress to rise above partisanship to craft a stronger and even more prosperous America.

The President doubled down on negotiating new trade deals, saying: "To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount - reversing decades of calamitous trade policies."

 
 
 
 

Markets are anxiously watching talks with China, hoping a deal will be reached before a March 1 deadline to further raise tariffs on China unless Beijing makes key concessions.

"We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end," Mr Trump said.

"I have great respect for President Xi (Jinping), and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs."

The site of the meeting with Mr Kim was not mentioned, but the US is widely reported to favour the seaside city of Da Nang. South Korea's presidential office yesterday welcomed the announcement with spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom saying: "We hope that Vietnam will be a great place for the US and North Korea to make new history."

North Korea has refrained from testing missiles or nuclear devices since Mr Kim and Mr Trump met at a summit in Singapore last June. Pyongyang has also returned the remains of many Americans killed in the Korean War.

But official talks on denuclearisation have not made progress and official rhetoric has been at odds.

US director of national intelligence Dan Coats told lawmakers last week that "North Korea will seek to retain its WMD (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities, and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities".

While noting that US intelligence had observed "some activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearisation", he acknowledged that North Korea had "halted its provocative behaviour".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Second Trump-Kim summit set for month-end in Vietnam'. Print Edition | Subscribe