US State Department officials have met with their North Korean multiple times over the past few months in Hanoi, Vietnam fueling speculation that the much talked about second summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un could be held in this south-east Asian country.
According to news reports in South Korea, the diplomats of the two countries have held numerous meetings to discuss the schedule and agenda of a ‘second summit.’ This after Donald Trump told reporters in Washington on Sunday that the United States and North Korea are “negotiating a location” for a second summit.
“It will be announced probably in the not too distant future,” Trump said. “They do want to meet and we want to meet and we’ll see what happens.”
The choice of Vietnam like Singapore stems from the fact that Hanoi has diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and North Korea. Vietnam is also a communist country which has transformed its economy to a great extent, an ideal espoused by North Korea. Speculation that Vietnam could play host to the two leaders comes after North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho's visit to the country from November 29 to December 2.
Another South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo also reported that Mark Lambert, a senior US State Department official handling North Korea issues, had visited Vietnam in December 2018.
Noise about a second summit has grown as negotiations on denuclearization and consequently a withdrawal of economic sanctions have not really happened. North Korea maintains that the U.S. is resorting to bullying to get it to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistics missile programme while the Trump Administration has maintained that Pyongyang needs to show concrete proof of denuclearization for sanctions to be withdrawn.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang was abruptly cancelled at the end of 2018 as the Trump Administration saw no movement on the North Korean front. However, in a new year speech Kim Jong-un said he is willing to meet Trump again to achieve their common goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but warned he may have to take an alternative path if U.S. sanctions and pressure against the country continued.
“I am always ready to sit together with the U.S. president anytime in the future, and will work hard to produce results welcomed by the international community without fail,” Kim said.