27 Feb 2019

Donald Trump in Vietnam for summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

5:59 am on 27 February 2019

US President Donald Trump has arrived in Vietnam ahead of his second summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

US President Donald Trump disembarks from Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi on February 26, 2019, on his arrival in Vietnam for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Donald Trump disembarking from Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: AFP

Air Force One landed at Hanoi's Noi Bai airport hours after Mr Kim reached the Vietnamese capital by train and car.

The summit, which is due to take place on Wednesday and Thursday, follows a historic first round of talks in Singapore last year.

The two leaders are expected to discuss progress towards ridding the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons.

Ceremonial guards had lined a red carpet laid out for Mr Kim as he arrived at Dong Dang border station on Tuesday morning. He was then driven to Hanoi, where heavy security and flag-waving crowds were waiting for him.

Mr Kim is thought to be travelling with his sister Kim Yo-jong and one of his key negotiators, former General Kim Yong-chol, both familiar faces from the previous summit with Mr Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrives at Dong Dang railway station, Vietnam, on his way to the second US-North Korea summit.

Kim Jong-un arrives at Dong Dang border station. Photo: AFP

The journey from Pyongyang to Vietnam took more than two days and traversed about 4000 km. Had Mr Kim chosen to fly to Vietnam he would have got there in a matter of hours.

As Mr Kim's train passed through China, roads were closed and train stations shut down. Chinese social media was abuzz with road closures, traffic congestion and delayed trains.

Vietnam's Dong Dang station was also closed to the public ahead of his arrival on Tuesday morning. He was driven 170km to Hanoi by car.

It's little surprise that Mr Kim chose to take the train as this is how his grandfather, North Korea's first leader Kim ll-sung, travelled when he went to Vietnam and Eastern Europe.

That alone would have made it a highly symbolic move for the younger Mr Kim.

Mr Kim's private green and yellow train has 21 bulletproof carriages and is luxurious, with plush pink leather sofas and conference rooms so the journey would not have been unduly uncomfortable.

Singapore summit

Details of their schedule are only just becoming clear. Mr Trump will meet Mr Kim for a brief one-on-one conversation on Wednesday evening and then they will have dinner together with their advisors, according to White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders. On Thursday, the leaders will meet for a series of back-and-forth meetings.

The Hanoi meeting is expected to build on the groundwork of what was achieved at the Singapore summit last June.

That meeting produced a vaguely worded agreement, with both leaders agreeing to work towards denuclearisation - though it was never made clear what this would entail.

However, little diplomatic progress was made following the summit.

This time round, both leaders will be very conscious that expectations will be high for an outcome that demonstrates tangible signs of progress.

However, Mr Trump appeared to be managing expectations ahead of the summit, saying he was in "no rush" to press for North Korea's denuclearisation.

"I don't want to rush anybody. I just don't want testing. As long as there's no testing, we're happy," he said.

Washington had previously said that North Korea had to unilaterally give up its nuclear weapons before there could be any sanctions relief.

Vietnam is an ideal location for many reasons. It has diplomatic relations with both the US and North Korea, despite once having been enemies with the US - and could be used by the US as an example of two countries working together and setting aside their past grievances.

Ideologically, both Vietnam and North Korea are communist countries - though Vietnam has rapidly developed since and become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, all while the party there retains absolute power.


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