President Donald Trump kicked off his second summit Wednesday evening local time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Trump kicked off the summit in similar fashion with a ceremonial handshake between the two leaders. Trump briefly took questions while shaking the North Korean leader’s hand, saying of the summit, “I think it’ll be very successful” and that the two leaders have “a great relationship.”
The president was asked whether he would officially declare an end to the Korean War to which he replied, “we’ll see” and reaffirmed his commitment to making the goal of the summit denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.
Shortly afterwards, the two leaders were seen by reporters again seated across from each other with respective translators, when Kim Jong Un spoke for the first time. The North Korean leader expressed optimism about the summit’s beginning and some regret for “misunderstandings” in the interim 251 days since they last met in Singapore. He added that “a lot of patience was needed.”
The president then noted his hope that the second summit would be more successful than the first and emphasized a point that he will likely raise time and time again during the summit; that North Korea has “tremendous economic potential” if it agrees to denuclearize.
Trump and Kim Jong Un were scheduled only for a 20-minute initial 1-on-1 meeting. After they will be joining an expanded bi-lateral working dinner, which is scheduled to last 90 minutes. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday that Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will accompany the president.
The summit between the two leaders will then continue Thursday, though the White House has not yet released any other details. Trump mentioned briefly at the end of his second session with Kim Jong Un that a news conference would take place at the end, just as he did in Singapore.
Trump will seek to build upon his June 2018 summit with the North Korean leader where the two countries signed a memorandum agreeing in principle to begin a denuclearization process. The previous summit’s main achievement was securing a cooling period in tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, which ratcheted up early in Trump’s presidential term.
White House officials say the president will now seek to secure some sort of concrete commitment from the North Korean government to begin a denuclearization process. Trump’s pitch to Kim Jong Un is that by agreeing to denuclearization the young leader can usher in a new extraordinary period of economic prosperity.
North Korea’s economy is currently hampered by some of the most strict international sanctions in the world, hindering its ability to trade in international markets and subjecting the country to an effective blockade from the community of nations.