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(2nd LD) (US-NK summit) N.K. media reports on Kim's departure for Trump summit in Hanoi

North Korea 07:35 February 24, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info from 9th para)

SEOUL, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has departed by train for Hanoi to hold a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump later this week, Pyongyang's state media reported Sunday.

Kim left Pyongyang Railway Station on Saturday afternoon and was accompanied by senior officials, including his sister Kim Yo-jong and top aide Kim Yong-chol, the Korean Central News Agency reported.

But there was no mention of Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, in the list of those accompanying the leader.

Kim is to hold his second summit with Trump from Feb. 27-28.

The KCNA also reported that Kim will make an official goodwill visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong.

It was the first time that North Korean state media have reported on Kim's second summit with Trump.

Earlier, Russia's Tass news agency reported from Pyongyang that Kim's train departed for Hanoi at around 5 p.m Saturday.

Sources later said that his train crossed into the Chinese border town of Dandong around 9:40 p.m.

The train is expected to travel a total of around 4,500 kilometers for about 60 hours and arrive in the Vietnamese border city of Dong Dang in Lang Song province on Tuesday. From there, Kim is expected to travel to Hanoi by car.

Vietnamese media earlier reported that all traffic will be banned from a section of a highway linking the border city to Hanoi between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, but all of the reports have later been removed apparently at the instruction of authorities.

(2nd LD) (US-NK summit) N.K. media reports on Kim's departure for Trump summit in Hanoi - 1

Before his departure, speculation had been swirling about what transportation Kim will use.

Flying on a state jet, codenamed "Chammae-1," was originally considered the most likely option, but the possibility of a train trip gained significant traction after a senior North Korean official preparing in Hanoi for the leader's trip visited a train station near the border with China.

Kim used a rented Chinese plane to travel to Singapore for his first summit with Trump last June. He arrived at the summit venue two days ahead of the historic meeting.

In their June summit, Kim and Trump agreed to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for security guarantees from the U.S.

This week, they are expected to focus on concrete denuclearization steps by the North and "corresponding" measures by Washington possibly including easing sanctions and improving bilateral relations.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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