Trump says 2nd U.S.-N.K. summit to be held in Hanoi

SEOUL-- U.S. President Donald Trump announced that his second meeting with North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un will take place in Vietnam's capital city and expressed optimism about the communist nation's future.

He made public the summit venue in a Twitter message on Saturday (Seoul time) after Stephen Biegun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea, returned to South Korea following a trip to Pyongyang.

Trump earlier said he will meet Kim in the Southeast Asian nation from Feb. 27-28.

"My representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting and an agreed upon time and date for the second Summit with Kim Jong Un," Trump tweeted. "It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 & 28. I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!"

Trump extolled Kim, who is known to be in his 30s and to have been educated in Europe and whom Trump once nicknamed "Little Rocket Man" for a series of missile launches by his country, especially in 2017.

"North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, will become a great Economic Powerhouse," the outspoken president said. "He may surprise some but he won't surprise me, because I have gotten to know him & fully understand how capable he is. North Korea will become a different kind of Rocket - an Economic one!"

Biegun held pre-summit talks with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Hyok-chol, in Pyongyang from Wednesday to Friday. The U.S. State Department called Kim the "special representative for U.S. affairs of the State Affairs Commission."

Speaking with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in Seoul, Biegun said he had "productive" discussions in Pyongyang. He added, "We have some hard work to do" with North Korea before the Hanoi summit.

Trump apparently favored Da Nang, where he traveled in 2017 for an APEC session, while the North's leader wanted the summit to be held in Hanoi, where his country has an embassy.

Kim Jong-un reportedly plans to make a state visit to Vietnam just before or after the summit with Trump.

While the first U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore last year was somewhat symbolic in that it merely laid the foundation for headway to be made, many believe that the second one should produce more tangible results to keep the nascent Korean Peninsula peace process moving.

Washington has pressured Pyongyang to take concrete, substantive steps for its nuclear disarmament. North Korea has been demanding the United States' "corresponding" measures for its denuclearization steps that may include partial sanctions relief.

Some observers have raised the possibility of the leaders agreeing to declare a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War and setting up a U.S. liaison office in the North's capital, which Pyongyang has desired.

In return, the secretive communist regime may agree to fully dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear facilities.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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