Officials from the United States and North Korea met in Hanoi, Vietnam, to discuss plans for a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a South Korean newspaper reported Jan. 7, citing anonymous diplomatic sources in Seoul and Washington.
The location of the talks suggest that the second summit between the two leaders may take place in Vietnam, Munhwa Ilbo reported.
Vietnam could play a symbolic role for the summit since it is a communist country with a reformed economy. Vietnam has diplomatic relations with both the United States and North Korea. Pyongyang has a diplomatic office in Hanoi.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Seoul didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Jan. 6 that the United States and North Korea are “negotiating a location for the second summit.”
“It will be announced probably in the not-too-distant future,” the president said. “They do want to meet and we want to meet and we’ll see what happens.”
Trump said he spoke to Kim indirectly and that the two nations maintain “a very good dialogue.”
North Korea hasn’t conducted tests of missiles or nuclear weapons since Trump met Kim in Singapore last June. The two leaders signed a joint statement agreeing to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, establish peaceful relations, and repatriate the remains of U.S. soldiers. The agreement also includes security guarantees for North Korea.
Kim said in a televised New Year’s address that he is willing to meet Trump anytime to continue discussions on denuclearization.
“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.
Trump is holding tight sanctions in place on North Korea until significant progress is made to abandon nuclear arms. The United States is seeking complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the reclusive communist regime.
Trump has said on several occasions that the Obama administration was headed for war with North Korea, a danger he helped evade.
“You would, right now, be in a nice, big, fat war in Asia with North Korea if I wasn’t elected president,” he said Jan. 6.
In August last year, Trump told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to delay a visit to North Korea due to lack of progress on denuclearization. Trump placed blame at the time partially on China, suggesting that Beijing may not have been enforcing sanctions on North Korea in good faith because of China’s trade dispute with the United States.
Last month, the United States sanctioned top North Korean officials over human-rights abuses and censorship. One of the officials, Choe Ryong Hae, is seen by some as the second most powerful official in Pyongyang.
The sanctions were announced as the State Department reported that North Korea’s communist regime continues to abuse human rights and censor the media.
“The government arbitrarily detains or, in some cases, even executes violators,” the report said. “Individuals can be severely punished for simply owning radio or television sets able to receive non-government broadcasts.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov