Hanoi Summit May Advance North Korea’s Objectives, Experts Say

Kim Jong Un to arrive in Vietnam on Feb. 25 ahead of Trump summit

Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is reported to have purged senior aides ahead of a landmark summit on nuclear weapons next week with Donald Trump, the U.S. president, in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

The State Department announced Tuesday that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, was en route to Hanoi in preparation for the summit.

"I'd just like to see, ultimately, denuclearization of North Korea", he said, but added that he has "no pressing time schedule".

Trump said he did not think North Korea was reluctant to denuclearize, in spite of a lack of concrete progress since he and Kim met for a first summit in Singapore in June.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants to see North Korea eventually give up its nuclear weapons program, but adds he's not in any rush because US relations with Pyongyang are good going into next week's summit.

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has embraced economic reforms and developed close diplomatic ties with its former foe the United States, has been widely touted as a model of reform for isolated and impoverished North Korea.

Among the most significant changes, Kim has appointed little-known Kim Hyok Chol to spearhead working-level talks with US nuclear envoy Stephen Biegun.

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In turn, spokesman Kim quoted Trump as saying he looks forward to meeting Moon in person, because he will have to convey the successful results of the upcoming Hanoi summit.

Trump said he would like to see the ultimate denuclearization of the DPRK, but at the same time noted that he was "in no particular rush" given that the sanctions remain in effect and Pyongyang has refrained from nuclear and missile testing.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, held a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump, right, Tuesday night.

A statement from South Korea's presidential office said Moon offered his country's assistance to President Trump as a "concession" to Pyongyang in order to expedite North Korea's denuclearization. "If there's testing, that's another deal", Trump said.

"I don't think they're reluctant; I think they want to do something", he said.

That could include anything from reconnecting rail and road links between the two Koreas to other inter-Korean economic cooperation.

While Trump's displays power, Kim's hairstyle shows youth, he told the news agency.

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