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(2nd LD) Trump: U.S.-N. Korea summit to be held in Vietnam Feb. 27-28

All News 14:24 February 06, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with analyst's comments, background in paras 1-2, 12-19)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held in Vietnam Feb. 27-28 with the talks to center on dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The date and venue had been shrouded in secrecy as the two countries negotiated the next steps following a vague denuclearization deal reached at their first summit in Singapore in June.

"Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong-un is a good one," Trump said during his State of the Union address.

"Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam," he said, stopping short of revealing the city.

The announcement came shortly after Washington's nuclear envoy, Stephen Biegun, arrived in Pyongyang to prepare for the next summit.

This graphic image shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) and U.S. President Donald Trump. (Yonhap)

In meetings with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Hyok-chol, Biegun said earlier that he planned to discuss "corresponding measures" for the elimination of Pyongyang's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

At the first summit, Trump and Kim committed to establish "new" relations between their countries, build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and work toward complete denuclearization of the peninsula.

Critics have said the agreement lacked detail.

And some, including U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, have voiced doubt that the North Koreans will surrender a nuclear program they view as critical to regime survival.

Still, Trump said his diplomatic engagement with North Korea led to concrete results, including the suspension of nuclear and missile tests and the return of American detainees.

"As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on the Korean Peninsula," he said in his speech, adding that had he not been elected president, the U.S. would be in a "major war" with the North.

Tensions flared in 2017 as Trump and Kim exchanged threats and personal insults over North Korea's tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S.

Under a "maximum pressure" campaign, the Trump administration imposed tough economic and political sanctions on the regime and led the United Nations Security Council to unanimously adopt multiple sanctions resolutions against Pyongyang.

North Korea has complained that the U.S. has not reciprocated its denuclearization measures -- such as the dismantling of a nuclear testing site and some missile facilities -- and demanded sanctions relief along with a declaration ending the 1950-53 Korean War.

Biegun reaffirmed last week that the U.S. will maintain sanctions on the regime until denuclearization is complete. But he left open the door to other unspecified actions, which he said the U.S. is willing to implement "simultaneously and in parallel" with North Korean steps.

The envoy also suggested that Trump is open to an end-of-war declaration to move past the hostility that has plagued the countries' ties for seven decades.

For denuclearization to be complete, Biegun said the North will have to provide a full declaration of its nuclear and missile programs "at some point" and fulfill Kim's promise to destroy all plutonium and uranium enrichment facilities "and more."

"Trump must not repeat the mistakes of Singapore," Bruce Klingner, formerly the CIA's deputy division chief for Korea, told Yonhap.

"Instead, Trump must insist on a detailed, comprehensive roadmap to North Korean denuclearization, robust verification measures, predicating benefits on tangible progress in reducing Pyongyang's arsenal, and resuming advocacy for improving North Korea's human rights record," he said.

Vietnam was widely reported to be the host of the second summit, with the central resort city of Da Nang mentioned as a possible location.

The Southeast Asian nation has diplomatic relations with both the U.S. and North Korea and serves as an instructive model for a country that went from being a U.S. adversary to a major partner.


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