Kim, Trump express hope, confidence in talks' success

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U.S. President Donald Trump meets with DPRK top leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb. 27, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

The second summit of Democratic People's Republic of Korea top leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump began on Wednesday in Hanoi, Vietnam, with both leaders expressing hope and confidence that this week's talks will be successful.

The two leaders greeted each other with warm smiles and shook hands for several seconds in front of the flags of their countries at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel.

Trump said his previous talks with Kim in Singapore were a great success and the Hanoi meeting will "hopefully be equal or greater than the first". He added their personal relationship constituted the biggest progress and told Kim that the DPRK has tremendous economic potential.

Kim said he would do his best to produce a "great outcome" to be welcomed by all people.

The pair started a one-on-one meeting with their translators after the photo session. It was followed by a "social dinner" involving some of their top aides.

Two U.S. officials — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mick Mulvaney, the White House's acting chief of staff — joined the dinner session, which last about an hour and a half. Kim Yong Chol, a senior official of the Workers' Party of Korea, and DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho were at the dining table as well.

The dinner session was thought to serve as a tone-setting test for the formal talks scheduled on Thursday morning, which may decide the future of a peace process that has been stalled after the two leaders' Singapore summit in June.

On Wednesday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Beijing hopes the Hanoi summit between Kim and Trump will take an important step forward to achieve denuclearization and establish a peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula.

"China expects the meeting between leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. will continue moving forward in the direction of the 'dual-track' approach," Wang said at a news conference after the 16th meeting of the foreign ministers of China, Russia and India in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.

Analysts have described Kim and Trump's Singapore summit as focused on breaking the ice to pave the way for full-scale diplomacy on denuclearization, improved ties and a formal conclusion to the war on the Korean Peninsula, going beyond the armistice reached in 1953. Now the two nations are facing a more daunting task of attempting to reach specific deals over details, going beyond a vaguely worded joint statement, they said.

Wang Junsheng, an international relations expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expressed his optimism about the second summit and said that given the DPRK's announcement that it would shift its strategic focus to economic development, the country will likely make concessions on giving up its nuclear weapons during this summit in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and the declaration of the end of the war.

Wang said denuclearization is an irreversible trend.

But Jenny Town, a research analyst at the Stimson Center in Washington, worried that it will be difficult for the two leaders to generate a specific road map and schedule for denuclearization at a single summit.

Also on Wednesday, the Republic of Korea's presidential Blue House spokesman said, "Whatever concessions Trump and Kim may make at their upcoming summit will be significant as they will mean further progress toward the complete denuclearization of Pyongyang."

Trump met separately with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc earlier on Wednesday. Kim is likely to meet the Vietnamese leaders during his two-day "official goodwill" visit after the summit with Trump, given the local media reports saying Kim would leave the country on Saturday.

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