Hanoi: US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un hold a second summit this week with no real expectation of a final deal on ridding the North of nuclear weapons but hope raised on Monday for an official peace on the peninsula at long last.
The two leaders are due to meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, on Wednesday and Thursday, eight months after their historic summit in Singapore, the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader.
There they pledged to work toward the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but their vague agreement has produced few results. U.S. Democratic senators and security officials have warned Trump against cutting a deal that would do little to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Trump, speaking in Washington on the eve of his departure for Vietnam, said he believed he saw eye to eye with Kim and that they had developed “a very, very good relationship”.
But he appeared to play down any hope of a major breakthrough, saying he would be happy as long as North Korea maintained its pause on weapons testing. “I’m not in a rush. I don’t want to rush anybody,” Trump said. “I just don’t want testing. As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.”
North Korea conducted its last nuclear test, its sixth, in September 2017. It last tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017. Before the freeze, the North conducted a series of tests that it says has given it powerful nuclear bombs and missiles capable of delivering them to the U.S. mainland.
The United States has for years demanded North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation, before any concessions will be granted. North Korea denounced that stance as unilateral and “gangster like”.
But in recent days, Trump has signalled a possible softening, saying he would love to be able to remove tough sanctions if there was meaningful progress on denuclearisation.
Trump said he and Kim expected to make progress at the summit and again held out the promise that denuclearisation would help North Korea develop its economy. He scoffed at critics of his handling of North Korea, and added that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been supportive of U.S. efforts.