President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un resume their summit in Hanoi on Thursday morning local time – after the president’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen dominated headlines with his day of bombshell testimony against his former boss.
Trump hailed ‘a very special relationship’ when he met Kim in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on Wednesday and said he was satisfied with the pace of talks, despite some criticism they were not moving quickly enough.
‘Great meetings’ and a ‘Very good dialogue,’ Trump said on Twitter after dinner with Kim at the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel while the White House said the two planned to sign a ‘joint agreement’ after further talks on Thursday.
The White House has given no indication of what the signing ceremony might involve, although the two sides’ discussions have included the possibility of a political statement to declare the 1950-53 Korean War over, which some critics see as premature.
They have also discussed partial denuclearization measures, such as allowing inspectors to observe the dismantling of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, U.S. and South Korean officials say.
Summit day two: North Korea released this picture of Trump shaking hands with dictator Kim Jong Un on the first day of their talks in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday
All eyes watching: Michael Cohen’s
Greeting: President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un shake hands at the top of their meeting in Hanoi – which was followed by a ‘quick dinner’
U.S. concessions could include opening liaison offices or clearing the way for inter-Korean projects, but critics say Trump risks squandering vital leverage if he gives away too much, too quickly.
The Hanoi summit was Trump’s second with Kim since an inconclusive meeting in Singapore in June that produced much fanfare but little substance and there had been little sign of concrete progress since.
The U.S. president nevertheless appeared upbeat with Kim even as his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified at a congressional hearing in Washington, calling Trump a ‘conman’ who knew in advance about the release of stolen emails aimed at hurting his Democratic rival in the 2016 election campaign.
Facing mounting pressure at home over investigations into Russian meddling in the election, Trump has sought a big win by trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for promises of peace and development, a foreign policy goal that has confounded multiple predecessors.
Trump told Kim on Wednesday he felt the first summit was ‘very successful’. ‘Some people would like to see it go quicker; I´m satisfied; you´re satisfied, we want to be happy with what we’re doing.’
The leaders exchanged views at dinner with the aim of achieving comprehensive and ground-breaking results from their summit, Kim’s state news agency KCNA said on Thursday.
‘Sincere and in-depth views were exchanged to bring about a comprehensive and groundbreaking outcome,’ it said.
The two men had met in the Vietnamese capital in front of a bank of six flags from each nation, for the first meeting for the pair since their historic summit in Singapore in June.
‘It’s an honor to be with Chairman Kim. It’s an honor to be together,’ said Trump, who repeatedly praised his counterpart.
The admiration may be mutual. In one remark, Kim praised Trump’s ‘courageous decision’ to open dialogue, according to how his translator recounted it.
In introductory remarks, Trump did much of the talking – and one again dangled the promise of prosperity for North Korea, and addressed critics who noted their initial joint statement was vague and hard to measure.
‘It’s great to be with you. We had a very successful first summit,’ Trump said. ‘I felt it was very successful. Some people would like to see it go quicker. I’m satisfied, you’re satisfied. We want to be happy with what we’re doing.’
‘I thought the first summit was a great success, I think this one hopefully will be equal or greater than the first,’ the president added.
As he has repeatedly, Trump pointed to personal chemistry with the reclusive leader of the family-led one-party dictatorship – although his secretary of state says North Korea is still a nuclear threat, having tested a hydrogen bomb and months ago conducted a skein of missile tests.
‘We made a lot of progress and I think the biggest progress was our relationship is really a good one,’ Trump said.
The two leaders smiled as they were seated before dinner
People walk past a TV broadcasting a news report on a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, in Seoul, South Korea, February 27, 2019
Trump repeatedly hailed the personal relationship between the two men
Trump complemented a New York Times photographer in one of many asides to Kim
In a spat with the White House, two reporters who had earlier asked Trump questions were not permitted to witness the start of dinner
Dangling economic enticements that he hopes will persuade Kim to give up nuclear weapons his nation has been developing for years, Trump said: ‘I think that your country has tremendous economic potential. Unbelievable. Unlimited,’ Trump said, seated across from Kim.
Both men smiled before cameras as they exchanged a handshake.
A reporter asked Trump about former lawyer Michael Cohen’s bombshell testimony in Congress that calls Trump a ‘conman.’ Trump shook his head and didn’t respond.
That may not have gone over well with the White House staff. At a subsequent photo-op, two wire service reporters were excluded, including the one who had asked about Cohen, whose bombshell testimony touched on Stormy Daniels, a Trump Moscow tower project, and Wikileaks.
According to a statement issued by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders: ‘Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group, but ensured that representation of photographers, tv, radio and print Poolers are all in the room. We are continuing to negotiate aspects of this historic summit and will always work to make sure the U.S. media has as much access as possible.’
For that event, the two men were seated at a round table with a floral centerpiece. Their meal had not yet been served.
Once again, Trump talked up their bond.
‘Our relationship is a very special relationship,’ the president said.
After Kim spoke in Korean, a translator said: ‘They have exchanged very interesting dialogue with each other.’
That prompted a joke from Trump. ‘If you could have heard that dialogue. What you would pay for that dialogue … It was good.’
Then Trump stepped in again. ‘We’re going to have a very busy day tomorrow and we’ll probably have a pretty quick dinner.’
‘And a lot of things are going to be solved I hope. It’ll lead to really a wonderful situation long term. And our relationship is a very special relationship,’ the president said.
Earlier Trump said: ‘It’s great to be with you. We had a very successful first summit. I felt it was very successful. Some people would like to see it go quicker. I’m satisfied, you’re satisfied. We want to be happy with what we’re doing.’
Complimenting their host country, Trump said: ‘It’s an honor to be with Chairman Kim. It’s an honor to be together in really a country, Vietnam, where they’ve really rolled red carpet. And they’re very proud to have us.’
Minutes earlier, as they first met, the two men engaged in brief remarks, then looked ahead toward press photographers with serious expressions on their faces. Eventually they smiled.
Trump and Kim dinedalong with top aides. Trump said the meal would be a ‘pretty quick dinner’
Trump review the guard of honor during a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong ahead of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi
President Donald Trump waves a Vietnam flag as he meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, waving an American flag
DOWN TO BUSINESS: Trump touted a deal for Vietnam to purchase planes. The U.S. trade deficit with the nation has grown by $5 billion since Trump visited two years ago
‘Thank you very much,’ Trump told reporters.
Trump began his Hanoi stay by meeting with Nguyen Phu Trong, the president of Vietnam, lavishing praise upon Vietnam for its ‘thriving’ economy and holding out the local economy as a model for North Korea to pursue.
He announced a deal to have Vietnamese airlines purchase U.S.-made planes – even as it continues to ship billions worth of sneakers and shrimp to U.S. ports. Other agreements would bring the total value of the agreements to $21 billion, according to an administration official.
Trump also called the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam an ‘example’ of what can become of North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons. Trump also posed in front of a statue of the nation’s revolutionary founder Ho Chi Min.
Later, Trump smiled and held a Vietnamese flag as he met with the country’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and inked a series of agreements.
Trump referenced ‘my friend’ KimJong Un and cited North Korea’s economic potential
The president also attacked his predecessor for failing to solve the North Korea problem, which has bedeviled U.S. policymakers for decades
Per capita income in Vietnam is nearly double that in North Korea, $2,400 compared to $1,300, achieving 7 per cent growth and with robust foreign investment and growing trade with the U.S.
South Korea is much farther along the development path, with per capita income of $26,000.
The president is relying on his brand of personal diplomacy to try to score a breakthrough here with Kim, after failing to see progress on denuclearization after a vague letter reached after the Singapore summit.
He has previously said they fell ‘in love’ at their Singapore summit, and has repeatedly stressed that the hermetic regime could become wildly successful if it modernizes and relinquishes its nuclear weapons.
His bid to establish camaraderie with Kim comes despite dark signals that continue to emerge out of the closed society he governs.
Kim forced his uncle to watch colleagues get blown apart with anti-aircraft guns before his own death, according to a defector.
Kang Cheol-Hwan said he was told by eye witnesses that two men who worked with Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, were killed by firing squad.
The two men were brought in front of a barrage of eight anti-aircraft guns and had lumps of iron stuffed into their mouths before their deaths.