6 Feb 2019

Trump announces second North Korea summit

9:00 pm on 6 February 2019

US President Donald Trump has announced he will hold his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month, while giving himself credit for avoiding a major war on the Korean Peninsula.

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Donald Trump made the announcement during his State of the Union address. Photo: AFP

In his annual State of the Union address to Congress, Mr Trump said much work remained to be done in the push for peace with North Korea, but cited the halt in Pyongyang's nuclear testing and no new missile launches in 15 months as signs of progress.

The meeting is scheduled for 27 and 28 February in Vietnam.

"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," Mr Trump said in his address.

His relationship with Mr Kim, he noted, "is a good one."

Mr Trump met Mr Kim on 12 June in Singapore in the first summit between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader. Mr Trump has been eager to hold a second summit in spite of a lack of concrete progress in persuading North Korea to give up a nuclear weapons programme that threatens the United States.

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, had been widely touted as the most likely venue for the meeting. Mr Trump did not say which Vietnamese city would host the two leaders, but both the capital, Hanoi, and Da Nang have been considered possibilities.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Vietnam in July and urged North Korea to follow its example, saying Mr Trump believed Pyongyang could replicate Hanoi's path to normal relations with Washington and prosperity after its own war with the United States.

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was due to hold talks in Pyongyang this week to map out what he called "a set of concrete deliverables" for the second meeting.

The Singapore summit yielded a vague commitment from Mr Kim to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, where US troops have been stationed since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

In the US view, Pyongyang has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons. North Korea has complained that Washington has done little to reciprocate its freezing of nuclear and missile testing and dismantling of some nuclear facilities.

Pyongyang has repeatedly urged a lifting of punishing US-led sanctions, a formal end to the war, and security guarantees.

Mr Trump has hailed "tremendous progress" in his dealings with North Korea. But on the eve of Biegun's trip, a confidential report by UN sanctions monitors seen by Reuters cast further doubt on North Korea's intentions.

It said the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes remained intact and that North Korea was working to make sure those capabilities could not be destroyed by any military strikes.

- Reuters

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