North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump met in Hanoi on Wednesday for their second summit, with the U.S. president rejecting any suggestion he was walking back on U.S. demands for North Korea’s denuclearization.
Kim and Trump shook hands and smiled briefly in front of a row of their countries’ flags at the Metropole hotel in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi.
Trump told reporters he thought the talks would be very successful, and asked if he was “walking back” on denuclearization, said “no”.
At their historic first summit in Singapore last June, Trump and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean peninsula. North and South Korea have been technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict, with the Americans backing the South, ended in a truce, not a treaty.
Asked if he would declare a formal end to the Korean War, which North Korea has long called for, Trump said: “We’ll see.”
In the run-up to this summit, Trump has indicated a more flexible stance, saying he was in no rush to secure North Korea’s denuclearization. He repeated that on Wednesday, saying while some people believed the talks should be moving more quickly, he was satisfied.
Trump has held out the prospect of easing sanctions if North Korea does something “meaningful”.
But some critics have said he appeared to be wavering on a long-standing U.S. demand for complete and irreversible denuclearization by North Korea, and risked squandering leverage if he gave away too much in the talks too quickly.
Kim said they had overcome obstacles to hold their summit.
“Now that we’re meeting here again like this, I’m confident that there will be an excellent outcome that everyone welcomes, and I’ll do my best to make it happen,” Kim said.
Trump and Kim are scheduled to hold a 20-minute, one-on-one chat followed by a dinner with aides.
Trump will be accompanied by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Kim will be joined by his top envoy, Kim Yong Chol, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
On Thursday, the two leaders will hold “a series of back and forth” meetings, the White House said. The venue has not been announced.
Despite little progress on his goal of ridding North Korea of its weapons programmes, Trump appeared to be betting on his personal relationship with North Korea’s young leader, and the economic incentive after 70 years of hostility between their countries.
“Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize,” Trump said on Twitter ahead of the meeting.
“The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un. We will know fairly soon - Very Interesting!”