Hanoi Postcard: Children hope to give Kim comradely welcome

Saul Bowman
February 28, 2019

The Trump administration has pressed the North to give up its nuclear weapons program which, combined with its missile capabilities, pose a threat to the USA, before it can expect any concessions.

North Korean officials engaged in working-level talks for the summit briefed Kim after he arrived, the North's state news agency, KCNA, said on Wednesday.

For Narang, the destruction of the Yongbyon complex - North Korea's main nuclear center - would mark an important step.

"What he (Trump) said was that the efforts that had been made in Singapore - this commitment that Chairman Kim (Jong-un) made - have substantially taken down the risk to the American people".

Ahead of this week's meeting in Hanoi between the United States President and North Korean leader, citizens in Seoul are divided between hope, fear and mistrust - with some saying they are just too busy to care. There are several state-owned corporations in Vietnam that North Korea might have interest in.

The students learn about North Korea, its leaders, landmarks and culture, lessons that are supplemented by a sister relationship with a kindergarten in Pyongyang with which visits are exchanged each year.

The United States says it is seeking the "verifiable and irreversible" denuclearization of North Korea - a formulation Pyongyang is sure to resist.

Wide gaps remain between US and North Korean negotiators, who have yet to agree on a basic definition of what "denuclearization" means to both sides, USA officials told the Washington Post.

A bulletproof Mercedes S600 Pullman Guard carrying Kim arrived at the five-star Melia hotel in downtown Hanoi after a two-hour, 170-kilometer road trip from a train station near Vi.

Howard X and White also made headlines in the run-up to the first summit in Singapore last June.

The first ladies of North Korea and the USA are unlikely to come to Hanoi.

Few details of Kim's trip have been announced but he left Pyongyang by train on Saturday afternoon for the February 27-28 summit accompanied by senior North Korean officials as well as his influential sister, North Korea's state media reported.

Wallace confronted Pompeo about the president's comments on Sunday, while also asking the secretary about assessments from experts that suggest Trump's expectations of Kim are unrealistic.

With little progress since then, the two leaders are expected to focus on what elements of North Korea's nuclear programme it might begin to give up, in exchange for US concessions. A few months after their direct talks, Trump bizarrely said that he and Kim "fell in love".

"The first summit was ground-breaking, but there was no substantial or concrete achievements, " he said.

As a step South Korean officials see as the minimum needed to secure some American concessions, North Korea has said it could allow global inspectors to observe the dismantlement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, which has produced plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons.

South Korean media have reported that Trump and Kim might strike a deal that stops short of a hoped-for roadmap for full North Korean denuclearization.

Despite the positive spin on North Korean intentions by the liberal government in Seoul, critics say, Pyongyang, as it has since the Korean War, still claims to be the sole legitimate Korean government, and is therefore working to split South Korea from its USA protector and enshrine its nuclear program, even if partially, as a way to eventually coerce Seoul into doing its bidding.

"The possibility is open".

Vietnam said it was ready to welcome the USA and Korean leaders.

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