U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed on Tuesday that he would hold his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28, while giving himself credit for avoiding a major war on the Korean Peninsula.
In his annual State of the Union address to Congress, Trump said much work remained to be done in the push for peace with North Korea, but cited the halt in Pyongyang's nuclear testing and no new missile launches in 15 months as signs of progress. Trump said, "If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea."
Trump met Kim on June 12, 2018 in Singapore and he has been eager to hold a second summit in spite of a lack of progress in persuading North Korea to give up a nuclear weapons program that threatens countries across Southeast Asia and the United States.
Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, had been widely touted as the most likely venue for the meeting. Trump did not say which Vietnamese city would host the two leaders, but the capital city of Hanoi, and the costal city Da Nang are considered possibilities.
The Singapore summit yielded a vague commitment from Kim to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, where U.S. troops have been stationed since the 1950-1953 Korean War. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged North Korea to follow Vietnam’s example to normalize relations with Washington.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was due to hold talks in Pyongyang this week to map out "a set of concrete deliverables" for the second meeting. In the U.S. view, Pyongyang hasn’t taken concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons while North Korea complains that Washington has done little to reciprocate, and has repeatedly urged a lifting of punishing U.S.-led sanctions as well as a formal end to the war and security guarantees.
A confidential report by U.N. sanctions monitors seen by Reuters news agency casts doubt on North Korea's intentions. The report states that the North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remained intact and that the country was working to make sure those capabilities could not be destroyed by any military strikes.