Saturday 20 April 2019

North Korea's Kim arrives in Vietnam for summit, Trump flies in on Air Force One

  • Kim arrives by train to red-carpet welcome in border town
  • Trump flew into Hanoi this afternoon
  • Leaders to meet on Wednesday and Thursday
In this combination of images North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, waves from a car after arriving by train in Dong Dang, Vietnam, and U.S. President Donald Trump waves from his car after arriving on Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport, in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photos)
In this combination of images North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, waves from a car after arriving by train in Dong Dang, Vietnam, and U.S. President Donald Trump waves from his car after arriving on Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport, in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photos)
Vietnamese residents take photos while North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un goes past in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/KHAM

Khanh Vu and Jeff Mason

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump where they will try to reach agreement on how to implement a North Korean pledge to give up its nuclear weapons.

Trump flew into Hanoi on Air Force One, touching down just before 9 p.m. (1400 GMT).

"Just arrived in Vietnam," he wrote in a Twitter post. "Thank you to all of the people for the great reception in Hanoi. Tremendous crowds, and so much love!"

They will meet for a brief one-on-one conversation on Wednesday evening, followed by a dinner, at which they will each be accompanied by two guests and interpreters, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Air Force One.

The two leaders would meet again on Thursday, she said.

Kim arrived by train early in the day after a three-day, 3,000-km (1,850-mile) journey from his capital, Pyongyang, through China. He completed the last stretch from a border station to Hanoi by car.

Their talks come eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.

There is likely to be pressure on both sides to move beyond the vaguely worded commitment they made in Singapore to work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

U.S President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport before a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
U.S President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport before a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
In this combination of images North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, waves from a car after arriving by train in Dong Dang, Vietnam, and U.S. President Donald Trump waves from his car after arriving on Air Force One at Noi Bai International Airport, in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photos)
U.S President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport before a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
U.S President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport before a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Hanoi. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
U.S. President Donald Trump is welcomed by U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel Kritenbrink and Vietnamese officials as he arrives at Noi Bai International Airport for a second summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai International Airport for a second summit with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un leaves the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un runs after they arrive at the border town with China in Dong Dang, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh pose for photographs as they arrive for a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)
The motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un travels enroute to his hotel, ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un leaves the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. Yonhap via REUTERS
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's delegation leaves the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un arrives at the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un arrives at the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's delegation arrives at the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un arrives at the North Korean embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
The motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un leaves his hotel, ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
North Korean reporters film the motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un as it leaves his hotel, ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
The motorcade of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un leave his hotel, ahead of the North Korea-U.S. summit in Hanoi, Vietnam February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Domestic critics have warned Trump against cutting a deal that would do little to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions, urging specific, verifiable North Korean action to abandon the nuclear weapons that threaten the United States.

In return, Kim would expect significant U.S. concessions such as relief from punishing sanctions and a declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is at last formally over.

Kim, who travelled from the North Korean capital by train, arrived at the station in the Vietnamese town of Dong Dang after crossing over the border from China.

Vietnamese officials were on hand to receive him at the station with a red-carpet welcome, including a guard of honour and fluttering North Korean and Vietnamese flags.

Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, who has emerged as an important aide, arrived with him.

About a dozen bodyguards ran along side Kim's car as he departed for the two-hour journey to the capital, Hanoi.

Roads were closed off with Vietnamese security forces equipped with armoured-personnel carriers guarding the route to the city's Melia hotel where he is staying.

Both Kim Jong Un and Trump are also due to hold separate talks with Vietnamese leaders.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also arrived in Hanoi, on Tuesday. He has been Trump's top envoy in his efforts to improve ties with the reclusive North and has made several trips to Pyongyang to negotiate an ending of its nuclear programme.

Pompeo was due to meet U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun in Hanoi later.

Trump told reporters before he left he and Kim would have "a very tremendous summit".

Tweeting on Monday, he stressed the benefits to North Korea if it gave up its nuclear weapons. "With complete Denuclearisation, North Korea will rapidly become an Economic Powerhouse. Without it, just more of the same. Chairman Kim will make a wise decision!" Trump said.

In a speech late on Sunday, Trump, however, appeared to play down any hope of a major breakthrough in Hanoi, saying he would be happy as long as North Korea maintained its pause on weapons testing.

"I'm not in a rush," he said. "I just don't want testing. As long as there's no testing, we're happy."

North Korea conducted its last nuclear test in September 2017 and last tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017.

Analysts say the two leaders have to move beyond summit symbolism.

"The most basic yet urgent task is to come to a shared understanding of what denuclearisation would entail," said Gi-Wook Shin, director of Stanford’s Asia-Pacific Research Center.

"The ambiguity and obscurity of the term 'denuclearisation' only exacerbates the scepticism about both the U.S. and North Korean commitments to denuclearisation.”

While the United States is demanding that North Korea give up all of its nuclear and missile programmes, North Korea wants to see the removal of the U.S. nuclear umbrella for South Korea.

A South Korean presidential spokesman told reporters in Seoul on Monday the two sides might be able to agree to a formal end of the Korean War, which was concluded with an armistice not a peace treaty, a move North Korea has long sought.

While a formal peace treaty may be a long way off, the two sides have discussed the possibility of a political declaration stating that the war over.

Protesters in Seoul tore up photographs of Kim and threw them to the ground to highlight their dismay that North Korea's grim record on human rights was not expected to figure in the discussions.

About half of 451 North Korean defectors questioned in a survey endured physical violence at the hands of North Korean authorities before they fled, a rights group.

Rights group Amnesty International said Trump had disregarded human rights to gain favour with Kim.

"His silence in the face of relentless and grave human rights violations has been deafening," it said.

Reuters

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