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Montevideo, April 25th 2019 - 22:39 UTC

North Korea could thrive as Vietnam, “and very quickly, if it would denuclearize,” Trump said

Wednesday, February 27th 2019 - 08:54 UTC
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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” 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”

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meet this Wednesday for their second summit, betting their personal relationship can break a stalemate over the North's nuclear weapons and end more than 70 years of hostility.

Despite little progress toward his stated goal of ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons since first meeting Kim in Singapore last year, Trump has said he is fully committed to his personal diplomacy with Kim.

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”.

Whether the bonhomie can move them beyond summit pageantry to substantive progress on eliminating Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal that threatens the United States is the question that will dominate their talks in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.

“Vietnam is thriving like few places on earth. North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize,” Trump said on Twitter.

“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!”

Trump and Kim will meet at the Metropole hotel at 6.30pm for a 20-minute, one-on-one chat followed by a dinner with aides, the White House said.

The elegant interior of the 118-year-old Metropole thronged with security and diplomatic personnel from both sides - some snapping pictures - as hotel staff made final preparations.

On Thursday, the two leaders will hold “a series of back and forth” meetings, the White House said. The venue for those meetings has not been announced.

Both sides are likely to feel pressure to agree on specific measures this time - what concrete steps North Korea will take to give up the weapons, and what the United States will offer in return.

While the United States is demanding North Korea give up all of its nuclear and missile programs, the North wants to see the removal of a US nuclear umbrella for South Korea.

US intelligence officials have said there is no sign North Korea will ever give up its entire arsenal of cherished nuclear weapons, which it sees as its guarantee of national security, while analysts say it won't commit to significant disarmament unless punishing US-led economic sanctions are eased.

Trump has held out the prospect of easing them if North Korea does something “meaningful”.

Any deal will face scrutiny from American lawmakers and other skeptics who doubt North Korea is really willing to give up the weapons, and who worry a compromise could squander US leverage and undermine regional interests.

Vietnam, relishing its role as mediator, could serve as a model for North Korea as it seeks a path out of isolation.

Vietnam normalized ties with old battlefield foe the United States in 1995 after decades of Cold War mistrust, and its “doi moi” reforms have transformed its economy.

Trump met Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong at the grand, colonial-era presidential palace, and said both he and Kim felt good about holding their summit in Vietnam.

Trump also said the United States and Vietnam would be signing trade, including one involving Boeing .

Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways is due to sign a deal with Boeing to purchase 10 planes on the sidelines of the summit, an airline executive said on Sunday

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