Here’s why Trump & Kim chose Vietnam to meet for a second time on Feb. 27 & 28
Vietnam makes logistical sense, and holds symbolic significance for both Trump and Kim.
United States (U.S.) President Donald Trump will be meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the second time at Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28.
Knows Kim well now
Trump made the announcement via a tweet on Friday night, Feb. 8 (Saturday morning local time), saying he looks forward to seeing Kim at their second Summit together to advance the “cause of peace”.
My representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting and an agreed upon time and date for the second Summit with Kim Jong Un. It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 & 28. I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim & advancing the cause of peace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2019
The announcement followed Trump’s confirmation at his second State of the Union address on Feb. 5 that the meeting would be held in Vietnam.
In another tweet, Trump said that Kim would not surprise him as he had gotten to know Kim and understood how “capable” he was.
He also said that North Korea, under Kim’s leadership, will become “a different kind of Rocket – an Economic one!”
Unlike the time when Kim had to use a Chinese plane to travel from Pyongyang to Singapore for his first summit with Trump, he can comfortably utilise his Soviet-made, Cold War-era plane to travel to Hanoi.
According to the Associated Press (AP), the distance from Pyongyang to Hanoi will be two-thirds of the distance to Singapore.
It will take just four hours over friendly territory that is largely Chinese, according to Bloomberg.
Also, Vietnam has diplomatic relations with both North Korea and the U.S., making it a good neutral venue for the meeting.
Vietnam offers tight security control as well, which means there would be little to no disruption to the meetings.
Protests are restricted and security forces are expected to be on high alert during the event.
The country also has a proven track record of hosting several high-profile events that world leaders attended, such as the 2017 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings and the World Economic Forum last year in Da Nang.
Communist like North Korea, but richer
Back in 2012, Kim vowed to bring economic growth to the country.
And Vietnam is the perfect example of a country which has employed capitalist practices under a Communist leadership, and achieved fast-growing economic progress.
Kim could use the trip as a learning opportunity for his own country, much like what he did when he came to Singapore.
Using Vietnam to counter China’s influence
China is North Korea’s largest trade partner and aid donor.
It is also currently engaged in a trade war with the U.S. that has no signs of dying down soon.
Cheon Seong Whun, a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul, told AFP that by choosing to meet in Vietnam, Washington could signal to Beijing that North Korea is “not in your hands”, and that they have a counterbalance to Chinese influence in the region.
The same holds for Vietnam as well.
CSIS senior associate Murray Hiebert told AP that in light of Vietnam’s ongoing rivalry with China in the South China Sea, hosting a high-profile summit like this would help Hanoi hedge against Beijing.
Foe turned friend
Vietnam as a venue holds symbolic significance for both North Korea and the U.S.
Diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the U.S. were severed for 20 years since the two countries fought a devastating war that ended in the 1970s.
Vu Minh Khuong, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore, told AP that by choosing Vietnam, both Trump and Kim wish to send a “strong strategic message to the world”.
“… they are willing to make a breakthrough decision to turn an enemy into a friend and together make the world a better place, following the example of the U.S.-Vietnam relationship.
Top image via KOREA SUMMIT PRESS POOL, MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images