February 6th 2019
Donald Trump today confirmed that a second summit will be held with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in a matter of weeks. The two leaders previously met last year in Singapore.
During his State of the Union speech, Trump repeated his earlier claim that his presidency was responsible for averting war with North Korea.
“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” claimed Trump.
Trump also stated that there had been no nuclear tests since his last meeting with Kim, and that the DPRK had released US hostages.
The president also said that his relationship with Marshal Kim Jong Un was “a good one” and that the two leaders would meet again in Vietnam on February 27th and 28th. No precise venue has yet been named, though it is believed that the city hosting the summit will either be Hanoi or the coastal city of Danang.
Trump’s Asian visit will not be limited to contact with the North Korean premier. During the same trip he plans to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping in order to discuss a trade deal and defuse the recent tensions that have developed between the two economic powerhouses. Both countries have imposed a March 1st deadline which will see the trade war escalate dramatically unless a deal is reached.
Last year’s Singapore summit between Trump and Kim was a historic encounter that marked the first time a sitting US President had met with a North Korean leader (Bill Clinton had previously visited North Korea in a successful bid to secure the release of US hostages, but this was following his exit from office). Since the summit the DPRK has carried out no further nuclear tests and has permitted the repatriation of US prisoners from the country, though there still remain concerns as to the East Asian country’s commitment to full nuclear disarmament.
US Vice-President Mike Pence recently expressed scepticism that the North Koreans had made progress on disarmament, stating that “[US officials] still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region.”
Vietnam, chosen as neutral ground between the two countries, has a long history of friendship with the DPRK and fraught relations with the US. The Vietnam War, which ended in US withdrawal from the South-East Asian country in 1975, was hugely unpopular in the US and resulted in widespread protests and massive political fallout.
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