Vietnam: Trump, Kim arrive in Hanoi for second summit

US wants Pyongyang to maintain its pause of weapons testing while North Korea seeks easing of sanctions.

Vietnam US North Korea
Hanoi has been decorated with the flags of the US, North Korea and Vietnam [Susan Walsh/AP]

Hanoi, Vietnam – Leaders of the United States and North Korea have arrived in the Vietnamese capital for their second round of talks in less than a year.

US President Donald Trump is seeking a continuation of the pause of Pyongyang’s weapons testing while Kim Jong Un wants the easing of sanctions and a formal declaration ending the Korean War.

Kim was the first to arrive in Hanoi on Tuesday, completing the last part of his trip to the city by car after covering the three-day, 3,000-km journey from Pyongyang to Dong Dang at the Vietnam-China border via train.

Expectant crowds, lining the cordoned off streets of Hanoi where Kim’s motorcade was to pass, waited under overcast skies to welcome the North Korean leader.

The city has been decorated with the flags of the US, North Korea and Vietnam, as well as banners depicting the faces of the two leaders and a “message of peace”.

Trump, who landed in Hanoi at about 9pm local time (14:00 GMT), is seeking an assurance from North Korea that it will stop testing its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

It also wants Pyongyang to get rid of all weapons capable of mass destruction, as well as produce a roadmap and a concrete plan of action on how it sets about achieving that goal.

Trump and Kim’s first historic Singapore summit last June came after months of growing tensions marked by nuclear and missile tests, fresh sanctions and threats of “total destruction” and ended with a vague statement that has failed to produce tangible progress.

Following the meeting, Trump revealed that the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula was the end goal.

Trump and Kim are scheduled to have dinner on Wednesday [Minh Hoang/AP]
Trump and Kim are scheduled to have dinner on Wednesday [Minh Hoang/AP]

However, the meeting did not explicitly define the term denuclearisation – leading to disagreements over what it meant – nor did it detail a specific timeline for the destruction of North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

There is now a concern that a repeat of vague results will not be taken well this time around.

“A second summit with no outcome will be highly criticised, especially in the US and especially when Trump is in a state of domestic turmoil,” Jenny Town, a research analyst at the Simpson Center, told Al Jazeera.

“That outcome won’t be popular in North Korea either as they have gone out of the way to build a narrative domestically about denuclearisation and turning towards economy and expecting certain benefits.”

Wednesday’s agenda

On Wednesday, Trump will be meeting Vietnam’s President and Secretary-General of the Communist Party, Nguyen Phu Trong as well as the country’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Trump and Kim, meanwhile, are scheduled to have dinner on Wednesday with a formal meeting set to take place on Thursday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

The venue for Thursday’s meeting is yet to be revealed.

While Pyongyang is seeking an easing of the sanctions, experts have warned the US against offering North Korea relief if the country does not do more than in previous agreements.

“North Korea will get the approval to end the war in exchange for better agreements with the US than what were shared in Singapore,” Bong Young-Shik, a North Korea expert at the Yonsei University in Seoul, told Al Jazeera.

“If Pyongyang doesn’t do that, like dismantling the nuclear facilities, there’s no reason for the US to offer more concessions to the North. At the same time, if the North is about to agree to take corresponding measures that the US wants, it will ask for more than the official declaration to end the war.”

Additional reporting by Al Jazeera’s James Bays

North Korea’s Secret Money | 101 East

Source: Al Jazeera