As the United States and North Korea prepared for this week’s summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, media feathers were ruffled when journalists found themselves bounced from hotel to hotel.
Bloomberg reported that U.S. journalists who had been staying at the hotel where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will be staying were unceremoniously told by Vietnamese officials that the media center that had been set up there was being relocated. No explanation was given for the move.
“You must go now! This way,” a Vietnamese security officer told media representatives, NBC reported.
NBC reported that the “forced move was highly unusual because the White House had approved of and supported the use of the space by media who cover the president.”
The change reflected the improvised nature of the summit, which was put together in less than two weeks.
However, Vietnamese officials said the nation is ready to host the event.
“Security will be at the maximum level,” Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung said, according to Fox News.
Kim arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday after a train trip from North Korea. President Donald Trump flew in late Tuesday.
On Monday, Trump tweeted that he was looking forward to a “productive” summit.
Heading over to Vietnam for my meeting with Kim Jong Un. Looking forward to a very productive Summit!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
He also mentioned North Korea in a tweet Sunday, saying he and Kim “both expect a continuation of the progress made at first Summit in Singapore. Denuclearization?”
Very productive talks yesterday with China on Trade. Will continue today! I will be leaving for Hanoi, Vietnam, early tomorrow for a Summit with Kim Jong Un of North Korea, where we both expect a continuation of the progress made at first Summit in Singapore. Denuclearization?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2019
Expectations of the summit run the gamut of possibilities.
“If President Trump succeeds in dissolving the world’s last remaining Cold War rivalry, it will become yet another great feat that will be indelibly recorded in world history,” said South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders last week sought to limit hopes for a breakthrough, however, saying the media were whipping up expectations that might not be met.
“The only one setting high expectations is probably the media because they’re looking for reasons to attack this president,” Sanders said Friday on Fox News. “They hate the idea that he’s done so well on something his predecessors couldn’t do anything on. He’s had a great success here in the fact that they were even able to sit down at the table. The fact that he’s able to do it again is in itself a big success.”
Democratic strategist Leslie Marshall told Fox News, “Unless we are hard and push on full denuclearization, we are not taking baby steps toward our goal because in a sense, in this regard, Kim Jong Un is holding the cards and we’re not getting anywhere. What kind of a deal do we have? Really nothing, and I fear that we will have that again.”
Given the complexities of the issues that have caused talks to move slowly, the summit might end with a symbolic gesture.
As reported by The Western Journal, one action talked about in advance of the summit was the possibility of a resolution ending the Korean War, which was halted in 1953 under an armistice that stopped the fighting but never ended the state of war between North Korea and its allies and the United States and its allies.
“Kim, like Trump, craves a big dramatic and historic moment in which the two leaders, foes for seven decades, stand side by side to declare a political end to the Korean War. To be clear: Such a declaration would not serve as a peace treaty formally ending the war. But it would be enough for Kim to take home to his people as a propaganda victory,” Jean Lee, director of the Hyundai Motor-Korea Foundation Center for Korean History and Public Policy, wrote on CNN.
“Ending the Korean War was a goal neither his father nor grandfather accomplished before dying; to accomplish that task would cement his authority inside North Korea as a master statesman and military strategist,” she wrote.