Nuclear breakthrough or vague promises? Outcomes abound for Trump and Kim

Nuclear breakthrough or vague promises? Outcomes abound for Trump and Kim

Nuclear breakthrough or vague promises? Outcomes abound for Trump and Kim

The Vietnamese government has been hard at work preparing for the Hanoi summit; USA and DPRK flags have both been hoisted from lampposts throughout the capital, and on Friday it was observed that workers were laying communication cables at the city's Metropole Hotel, speculated to be the back-up location for the summit.

"Dong Dang station will receive leader Kim Jong Un's train, after it passes the Vietnam-China border, starting his official visit to Vietnam and attend USA-DPRK summit", Vietnam's Government Office said in a statement.

Ahead of this week's meeting in Hanoi between the United States President and North Korean leader, citizens in Seoul are divided between hope, fear and mistrust - with some saying they are just too busy to care.

Such a scenario would be seen as a catastrophe by much of the Washington establishment, which has spent decades trying to figure out North Korea.

The best example may be Trump's stunning announcement in Singapore of the suspension of annual military drills by Seoul and Washington that North Korea rails against as "invasion preparation".

"With complete denuclearization, North Korea will rapidly become an economic powerhouse", he said.

That would signal the first stage of normalising US-North Korean relations, said Go Myong-hyun of the Asan Institute of Policy Studies, and would be an ideal "politically symbolic step" rather than prematurely agreeing to sanctions relief.

Late past year, North Korean state media published a statement saying that Pyongyang's definition of denuclearisation includes "completely removing the nuclear threats of the U.S.", an apparent reference to the US nuclear umbrella protecting allies in Asia.

It is a long chain of hearsay, but Andrew Kim is one of a handful of USA officials who have repeatedly met Kim Jong-un and accompanied Pompeo on several visits to Pyongyang previous year as well as the summit.

While Mr Kim will be travelling to Vietnam by train, last June during his first meeting with Mr Trump, the leader borrowed an Air China-branded plane from his Chinese neighbours.

He maintained that there has been "no change" in the USA position on sanctions relief, while also indicating that the North Koreans could receive some relief for taking verifiable steps toward denuclearization.

Vietnam's Hanoi hosts the second summit between North Korea and the United States on February 27-28.

A year ago, North Korea suspended its nuclear and long-range missile tests and said it dismantled its nuclear testing ground but those measures were not perceived as meaningful reductions.

Still, he said he's committed to seeing progress at the Kim-Trump meeting this week.

"The United States appears to be adopting more realistic tactics on nuclear disarmament, but not more realistic objectives", said Mount, at the Federation of American Scientists.

North Korea wants an easing of punishing US -led sanctions, security guarantees and a formal end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Despite the positive spin on North Korean intentions by the liberal government in Seoul, critics say, Pyongyang, as it has since the Korean War, still claims to be the sole legitimate Korean government, and is therefore working to split South Korea from its US protector and enshrine its nuclear program, even if partially, as a way to eventually coerce Seoul into doing its bidding.

Vietnam is hastily preparing for this week's summit, deploying security personnel across the city.

"And we see eye-to-eye, I believe, but you'll be seeing it more and more over the next couple of days, one way or the other".

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