The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's leader Kim Jong-un, center, waves upon arrival by train in Dong Dang on Feb 26, 2019, ahead of his second summit with US President Donald Trump. (MINH HOANG / AP)
HANOI, Vietnam — After long journeys to Vietnam, US President Donald Trump and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s leader Kim Jong-un are in place for their second summit Wednesday.
Trump arrived late Tuesday in Air Force One after a long flight that included refueling stops in England and Qatar. He waved from the stairs of the presidential plane, then shook hands with dignitaries and walked along a red carpet to his motorcade Kim arrived in Hanoi earlier and spent the day traveling around the Vietnamese capital in his armored limousine, his squad of bodyguards in tow as he visited the DPRK Embassy, with hundreds of visiting journalists and thousands of local citizens following in his wake. He took a train through southern China and then traveled to Hanoi by car from a Vietnamese border town.
Trump will meet Kim for a brief one-on-one conversation on Wednesday evening, followed by a social dinner, at which they will each be accompanied by two guests and interpreters. That would be followed by more meetings between the two leaders on Thursday
Sarah Sanders, White House spokesperson, US
Trump will meet Kim for a brief one-on-one conversation on Wednesday evening, followed by a social dinner, at which they will each be accompanied by two guests and interpreters, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Air Force One. Trump will be joined at the dinner by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the White House said Monday.
The two leaders will also have a series of official meetings Thursday.
Their talks come eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting US president and a DPRK leader.
While there is no real expectation that the second meeting will bring a final deal on ridding the DPRK of nuclear weapons that threaten the United States, there are some hopes it could lead to a declaration that the 1950-53 Korean War is at last formally over.
But the United States would expect significant movement by Kim towards denuclearization in return.
In Singapore, Kim pledged to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but the vague agreement struck there has produced few concrete results. US Democratic senators and security officials have warned Trump against cutting a deal that would do little to curb DPRK's nuclear ambitions.
Kim, who traveled from DPRK's capital by train, arrived at the station in the Vietnamese town of Dong Dang after crossing over the border from China.
US President Donald Trump arrives at Noi Bai Airport before a summit with DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, Feb 26, 2019, in Hanoi. (EVAN VUCCI / AP)
Before the summit began, Kim took some time to venture out of his locked-down hotel and check out parts of Hanoi, including his nation's embassy, where a loud cheer went up as he entered the compound.
Soldiers, police and international journalists thronged the streets outside Hanoi's Melia Hotel where Kim is staying, and hundreds of eager citizens stood behind barricades hoping to see the DPRK leader. As Vietnamese, DPRK and US flags fluttered in a cold drizzle, dozens of cameras flashed and some citizens screamed and used their mobile phones to capture Kim's rock-star-like arrival.
"I like him," local resident Van Dang Luu, who works at a nearby bank, said of Kim. "He is very young and he is very interesting. And he is very powerful," she said. "Trump is not young, but I think he is very powerful."
Vietnam's authoritarian leaders set up a huge security apparatus to welcome Kim, shutting long stretches of highway and locking down swaths of the bustling capital city. Earlier in the morning, Kim, grinning broadly and waving, stepped off his armored train at the end of a long ride that started in Pyongyang and wound through China to the Vietnamese border. He shook hands with officials as Vietnamese troops in crisp, white uniforms and black boots stood at attention on a red carpet at the Dong Dang railway station on the China-Vietnam border.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s leader Kim Jong-un (center) arrives at the Dong Dang railway station in Dong Dang, Lang Son province, on Feb 26, 2019 to attend the second US-DPRK summit. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)
Officials in Hanoi said they only had about 10 days to prepare for the summit — much less than the nearly two months Singapore had before the first Trump-Kim meeting last year— but still vowed to provide airtight security for the two leaders.
"Security will be at the maximum level," Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung told reporters.
Hours ahead of his border crossing, footage from Japanese TV network TBS showed Kim taking a pre-dawn smoke break at a train station in China, a woman who appeared to be his sister, Kim Yo-jong, holding a crystal ashtray at the ready.
In this image grab made from video, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's leader Kim Jong-un waves from a car after his arrival by train in Dong Dang on Feb 26, 2019. (PHOTO / AP)
Kim is also due to hold separate talks with Vietnamese leaders.
Pompeo has been Trump's top envoy in his efforts to improve ties with the reclusive DPRK and has made several trips to Pyongyang to negotiate steps towards ending its nuclear program.
Pompeo was due to met US Special Representative for the DPRK Stephen Biegun in Hanoi later.
Trump told reporters he and Kim would have "a very tremendous summit".
Tweeting on Monday, he stressed the benefits to the DPRK if it gave up its nuclear weapons. "With complete Denuclearization, North Korea will rapidly become an Economic Powerhouse. Without it, just more of the same. Chairman Kim will make a wise decision!" Trump said.
The DPRK is also referred to as North Korea.
In a speech on Sunday night, Trump, however, appeared to play down any hope of a major breakthrough at the Hanoi summit, saying he would be happy as long as DPRK maintained its pause on weapons testing.
"I'm not in a rush. I don't want to rush anybody," he said. "I just don't want testing. As long as there's no testing, we're happy."
The DPRK 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.
Body Guards of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un surround his car as it arrives for a visit to the DPRK embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb 26, 2019. (VINCENT YU / AP)
"The most basic yet urgent task is to come to a shared understanding of what denuclearization would entail," said Shin Gi-wook , director of Stanford’s Asia-Pacific Research Center.
"The ambiguity and obscurity of the term 'denuclearization' only exacerbates the scepticism about both the US and North Korean commitments to denuclearization.”
While the United States is demanding that the DPRK give up all of its nuclear and missile program, the DPRK want to see the removal of the US nuclear umbrella for the Republic of Korea (ROK).
A ROK presidential spokesman told reporters in Seoul on Monday that the two sides might be able to agree to a formal end of the Korean War, which ended in an armistice not a peace treaty, a move the DPRK 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.
"The possibility is there," the ROK spokesman, Kim Eui-kyeom, told a briefing.
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