Kim summit in Vietnam may be win for all

Erika Holt
February 7, 2019

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will hold a two-day summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (kim jawng oon) February 27-28 in Vietnam to continue his efforts to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.

"(Kim) would be interested in seeing the Vietnam story for himself, that can be a good source of inspiration and reflection for him to think about the way he should take North Korea forward", Le Hong Hiep, a Vietnam expert at Singapore's ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, told AFP.

In his latest State of the Union address, the U.S. president called his relationship with North Korea "a good one" and said his latest attempts to initiate talks were "part of a bold new diplomacy". "Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in more than 15 months".

"Trump overstates the concerns of "a major war" had he not been elected", NPR correspondents Scott Horsley and Michele Kelemen wrote in NPR's fact check of the speech. He added that his "relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one".

The president said he would meet with Kim in Vietnam on February 27 and 28.

Just as Singapore, where Kim and Trump met for the first time last June, Vietnam has diplomatic ties with both North Korea and the US.

Phuc last month told Bloomberg News that, if selected as the Trump-Kim summit host, his country would "do our best to facilitate the meeting".

Nhung agreed: "I think North Korea now is like Vietnam before the United States embargo was lifted, poor and economically limited".

"The two leaders have already taken the first step toward shaking off the past 70 years of hostility in Singapore", spokesman Kim Eui-keum said.

US envoy Stephen Biegun is due to meet his North Korean counterpart Kim Hyok Chol on Pyongyang on Wednesday, as he attempts to push forward preparations for the summit and advance a plan to reinvigorate talks about denuclearization.

North Korea was also listed among the nations that "have all used chemical weapons over the past two years, which threatens global norms and may portend future use".

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"Vietnam is locked in a pretty intense rivalry with China in the South China Sea, so Hanoi is looking for regional and worldwide diplomatic support as a hedge against Beijing, and hosting a summit like this would certainly strengthen its global profile", said CSIS scholar Hiebert.

Vietnam is also often lauded as an economic success story that North Korea could emulate.

"Great nations do not fight endless wars", Trump said, after his controversial orders to pull all USA troops out of Syria and half of the 14,000-strong force in Afghanistan.

But our correspondent says the United States president's latest references to Iran and the need to protect Israel point to a very different set of priorities, which is causing unease in Baghdad.

US intelligence chiefs believe there is little likelihood Kim will voluntarily give up his nuclear weapons or missiles capable of carrying them.

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

"It is contingent on progress of talks between North Korea and the United States but the possibility is low", he said.

The three-year Korean War ended with an armistice that left the two Koreas technically still at war.

The announcement was made in Trump's prepared remarks the White House released for his Tuesday night State of the Union address.

North Korea "continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal", states a report summary, as "global banks and insurance companies continue to unwittingly facilitate payments and provide coverage for vessels in ever-larger, multi-million-dollar, illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products".

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