Trump and Kim upbeat over summit in Hanoi

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US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signing a joint statement during the first summit in Singapore last year. Xinhua

HANOI (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump met in Vietnam yesterday for a second summit that the United States hopes will persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for promises of peace and development.

Mr Kim and Mr Trump shook hands and smiled briefly in front of a row of their national flags at the Metropole hotel in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, before heading to dinner together.

Mr Trump told reporters he thought the talks would be very successful, and asked if he was “walking back” on denuclearisation, said “no”.

At their historic first summit in Singapore last June, Mr Trump and Mr Kim pledged to work toward denuclearisation and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula but little progress has been made.

Mr Kim said they had overcome obstacles to hold their second summit and praised Mr Trump for his “courageous decision” to begin a dialogue.

“Now that we’re meeting here again like this, I’m confident that there will be an excellent outcome that everyone welcomes, and I’ll do my best to make it happen,” Mr Kim said.

Mr Trump and Mr Kim held a 20-minute, one-on-one chat before sitting down to dinner with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Mr Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mr Kim’s top envoy, Kim Yong Chol, and North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Today, the two leaders will hold a series of meetings, the White House said.

“We’re going to have a very busy day tomorrow … Probably a very quick dinner,” said a smiling, relaxed looking Mr Trump, seated beside Mr Kim at a round table with the other four officials and two interpreters.

“Our relationship is a very special relationship.”

Mr Kim also appeared at ease. “We’ll have a very interesting dialogue,” he told Mr Trump.

Mr Trump has held out the prospect of easing sanctions if North Korea does something “meaningful”.

Some critics have said Mr Trump appeared to be wavering on a long-standing US demand for complete and irreversible denuclearisation by North Korea, and risked squandering leverage if he gave away too much, too quickly.

Asked if he would declare a formal end to the Korean War, which North Korea has long called for, Trump said: “We’ll see.”

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