Trump and North Korea’s Kim Shake Hands to Kick Off Second Summit

February 27, 2019 Updated: February 27, 2019

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in Hanoi on Feb. 27 to kick off their second summit to discuss the denuclearization of Kim’s communist regime.

The two leaders smiled and shook hands in front of their countries’ flags at the Metropole hotel. Both leaders expressed optimism the talks would be successful.

At the historic summit in June 2018, Trump became the first American president to meet a leader of North Korea’s communist regime. Trump and Kim signed a joint statement after the summit. In the statement, Kim committed to “complete denuclearization,” the establishment of relations with the United States, peace on the Korean Peninsula, and the repatriation of the remains of American soldiers.

North Korea and South Korea are still technically at war after the 1950-53 conflict between them ended in a truce. Asked if he would declare a formal end to the Korean War, which North Korea has long called for, Trump said, “We’ll see.”

Trump had indicated before the summit that there is no rush for North Korea to denuclearize. He reaffirmed that position on Feb. 27, saying while some people believed the talks should be moving more quickly, he was satisfied.

Trump’s administration imposed a strict sanctions regime on North Korea in response to nuclear tests and missile launches. The White House has insisted that the sanctions will remain in place until North Korea achieves complete, irreversible, and verifiable denuclearization. Trump recently suggested that he may ease sanctions if Kim does something “meaningful.”

Kim said both leaders had overcome obstacles to hold the second 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.

President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before their one-on-one chat during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 27, 2019. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Trump and Kim held a 20-minute, one-on-one chat followed by a dinner with aides on Feb. 27, with official talks set to commence of Feb. 28 at an undisclosed venue.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney will accompany Trump. Kim will be joined by his top envoy, Kim Yong Chol, and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Ahead of the summit last year, North Korea blew up tunnels at a nuclear test site and destroyed missile testing facilities. After the summit, Kim stopped all missile and nuclear tests, honored the promise to return the remains of American troops, and demolished frontline guard posts near South Korea.

Trump and Pompeo have repeatedly promised to help make North Korea prosper if Kim rid his nation of nuclear weapons.

“Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly if it would denuclearize. The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un. We will know fairly soon,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Feb. 26. “Very Interesting!”

Good Relations

Trump said late last year he and Kim “fell in love,” and on the eve of his departure for the second summit said they had developed “a very, very good relationship.”

The two sides have discussed specific and verifiable denuclearization measures, such as allowing inspectors to observe the dismantlement of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, American and South Korean officials said.

Washington concessions could include opening liaison offices, ending the war, or clearing the way for inter-Korean projects.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov
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