Washington aims to 'get as far down the road as we can', Pompeo says
Kim Jong-un, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, will arrive in Vietnam on Feb. 25 ahead of a planned second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, sources said.
Three sources with direct knowledge of Kim's schedule told Reuters that Kim will arrive in Vietnam's capital city Hanoi next Monday and meet with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong.
Kim will also visit the Vietnamese manufacturing base of Bac Ninh and the industrial port town of Hai Phong, the source said.
Kim Chang-son, a senior official of DPRK's State Affairs Commission, was seen in Hanoi on Saturday visiting a government guesthouse and the Metropole and Melia hotels in the center of the capital, according to Reuters.
Republic of Korea's Yonhap news agency said Kim Chang-son is known as DPRK's de facto chief of staff in charge of protocol. He managed protocol and other related affairs, such as accommodations, for the first historic Kim-Trump summit held last June in Singapore.
His presence in Hanoi is expected to conduct protocol preparations for the second summit with his counterparts from the United States, Yonhap said.
Trump and Kim are due to meet in Hanoi on February 27 and 28. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday that Washington aims to "get as far down the road as we can" at the second summit.
In his recent tweet, Trump said he looked forward to seeing Kim and a "North Korea (the DPRK), under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse … North Korea will become a different kind of Rocket－an Economic one!"
In Singapore last June, both leaders agreed to accomplish four basic interconnected goals. But after that first summit, both the DPRK and the U.S. were reluctant to make the first move. The Hanoi summit is said to map out a concrete action plan over the issues that they agreed on from the first summit.
Since Pyongyang and Washington struggled to find common ground, this anticipated second summit has generated certain suspicion among some analysts on their sincerity to break the impasse.
Cheng Xiaohe, an associate professor with the School of International Studies from Renmin University of China, said that Kim and Trump's decision to meet again demonstrates that both leaders have realized the necessity of sitting down and making a deal.
"Throughout the past year, Pyongyang has improved relations with China and the ROK. Unfortunately, such progress comes with its own limitations as international sanctions against Pyongyang have hindered economic cooperation between them and other countries, while also preventing them from focusing on economic development," Cheng said.
The professor noted that to seek an early removal of the sanctions, Pyongyang has a built-in motivation to negotiate with Washington as early as possible, to speed up the process and to let the negotiations produce the biggest results.
For the U.S., he said Washington has also used significant diplomatic and military resources to cope with the issue, for example halting some joint military exercises with Seoul.
"Kim and Trump had real intentions to cut a deal, but the real challenge is how to turn them into actions acceptable for both sides. And that's why the DPRK and the U.S. drummed up their efforts to prepare for the second summit," Cheng said.
"Certainly, the second summit is not a one-off business matter," he said. Regardless of the results, more talks, and even more summits, between both nations are needed as they try to implement their agreements, he added.