U.S. President Donald Trump began meeting Wednesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in their second summit together in less than a year. Held in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi, the meeting is intended to bring about North Korea’s de-nuclearization, and possibly provide a formal end to the Korean War.
The two men previously met last June in Singapore. That historic summit ended with some backslapping and fine words, but little solid progress has been made since.
After motorcades across Hanoi, they shook hands in front of an array of flags at the city’s Metropole hotel. Trump wore a dark two-piece suit, Kim a smart boiler suit, but both men looked tired, and Kim appeared somewhat overawed.
In early remarks in front of cameras, Trump predicted greater results that at the first summit. He said the achievement of the first summit was their getting to know each other. Kim said he was “certain” that an outcome, rather than stalemate “will be achieved this time.”
If a deal is reached, it would give Trump a rare foreign-policy victory at a time when his presidency is increasingly embattled at home. On Tuesday, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to block Trump’s declaration of a national emergency that would allow the building of a border wall with Mexico. And on Wednesday, his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, is scheduled to testify before Congress in an extraordinary, and potentially explosive, public hearing.
Cohen is expected to tell the House Oversight Committee and Reform that Trump is a “racist,” a “con man” and a “cheat,” according to news organizations that have seen copies of his prepared remarks. Cohen is also expected to point to weaknesses in Trump’s past explanations about his medical deferment from military service, and the irony that Trump is now in Vietnam, having avoided active service there.
Both Trump and Kim arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday local time, Kim having taken the long overland route by train through China. The two men met on schedule Wednesday evening at 18.40 local time (6.40 am EST) and then headed in to a “social dinner.” A full day of discussions and a press conference “at some point” will follow on Thursday.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump met with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Trump took to Twitter between to talk up the importance of the summit meeting.
“Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuculearize. 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!,” he wrote on Twitter.