North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Vietnam by train for U.S. summit

26, Feb. 2019

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HANOI, Kyodo - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Vietnam on Tuesday after a 70-hour train trip via China, before completing his journey to Hanoi by car, a day ahead of his planned second meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

On a drizzly morning at the border station of Dong Dang, Kim was greeted by Vietnamese senior ruling party and government officials. He was showered with applause and received a bouquet before climbing into a black Mercedes.

Train was the preferred mode of transport for Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Un has visited China by train twice prior to this trip.

The summit between Trump and Kim is slated to take place on Wednesday and Thursday. The White House abruptly announced Tuesday that it will relocate the media center for U.S.-based reporters from the Melia Hanoi hotel “due to technical issues,” indicating Kim will stay there.

Kim has become the first North Korean leader to visit Vietnam since 1964. That year, Kim Il Sung travelled via China and flew to Hanoi to meet Vietnam's then president, Ho Chi Minh.

Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang by special train on Saturday afternoon, the Korean Central News Agency reported earlier.

His sister and close aide, Kim Yo Jong, and Kim Yong Chol, a senior ruling party official who held talks with Trump last month, are among those accompanying Kim.

The train believed to be carrying Kim was spotted crossing into the Chinese border city of Dandong from North Korea late Saturday night.

During his stay in the Southeast Asian country, Kim is also expected to meet with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also general secretary of the ruling Communist Party.

Amid tight security in the city, the United States and North Korea have held working-level talks in Hanoi since Thursday, in the run-up to the Trump-Kim summit.

The South Korean presidential office said Monday that Seoul hopes Washington and Pyongyang will declare an end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, which was halted by an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the United States and North Korea technically at war.

On Tuesday morning, U.S. Secretary General Mike Pompeo also arrived in Hanoi, Reuters reported.

Trump said at the White House on Monday just prior to his departure for Hanoi that he would meet with Kim and they would “talk about something that, frankly, he never spoke to anybody about.”

“But we're speaking and we're speaking loud. And I think we can have a very good summit. I think we'll have a very tremendous summit,” he said.(Kyodo)