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Trump, Kim Begin 2nd Summit in Vietnam


U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose before their meeting during the second U.S.-North Korea summit at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam Feb. 27, 2019.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong Un exchanged handshakes and pleasantries to kick off their second summit focused on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

The two leaders greeted each other in front of a line of U.S. and North Korean flags Wednesday evening in Hanoi at the Sofitel Legend Metropole, reminiscent of the scene at their historic first summit last June in Singapore.

"It's an honor to be with Chairman Kim," Trump told reporters during brief remarks in front of reporters with Kim Jong Un before their scheduled one-on-one meeting. "I think the first summit was a great success and hopefully this one will be equal or greater.”

Kim expressed confidence his second meeting with President Trump would be a success. "I am certain that an outcome will be achieved this time that will be welcomed by all people," the North Korean leader said.

After their talks, Trump and Kim will be joined in a formal dinner by their top aides, including U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Hours before his second meeting with North Korea's leader, U.S. President Donald Trump is urging his "friend" Kim Jong Un to abandon his nuclear weapons arsenal to ensure his country an "awesome" future.

In a tweet early Wednesday morning from Hanoi, President Trump said Kim should emulate the success enjoyed by Vietnam, its fellow communist nation, which he says is "thriving like few places on earth."

"The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un."

In a later tweet, the U.S. president said he and Kim "will try very hard to work something out on Denuclearization" and making the repressive regime "an Economic Powerhouse." Trump wrote that he believed China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- the four nations involved with the United States in previous failed talks to convince Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons -- "will be very helpful!"

Before departing Washington, Trump voiced hope he would reach agreement on details of Kim's pledge to denuclearize his country.

Trump said on Twitter that without denuclearization, impoverished North Korea would endure "just more of the same." But Trump predicted, "Chairman Kim will make a wise decision!"

On Sunday night, Trump told U.S. state governors that he and Kim "see eye to eye, I believe, but you'll be seeing it more and more over the next couple of days. We're going to have, I think, a very interesting two and a half days in Vietnam. And we have a chance for the total denuclearization of an area of the world that was very dangerous."

Previous meeting

Trump and Kim met last June in Singapore, after which Trump declared, "there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea."

But as he meets with Kim in Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, there is little concrete evidence that progress has been made to set the specific terms of North Korea's promised denuclearization.

Pompeo told the U.S. based cable news network CNN on Sunday "there is no change" in U.S. economic sanctions targeting North Korea until it agrees to "full verifiable denuclearization." He disputed Trump's claim, made after last June's Singapore summit with Kim, that North Korea was no longer a nuclear threat.

Pompeo said the United States is "happy to make security assurances" for North Korea's survival as an independent state, to "make North Korea more like South Korea" as an economic power. He said the United States is offering North Korea an alternative to "becoming a pariah state."

But he acknowledged "we've got work to do" to reach an agreement on how and when Pyongyang would destroy its nuclear arsenal.

In the early months of his presidency, Trump said he would unleash "fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea for its threats against the U.S. and its allies.

But on Sunday, Trump tweeted, "Great relationship with Chairman Kim!"

U.S. intelligence officials remain skeptical that North Korea intends to follow through on Kim's Singapore pledge to denuclearize.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional panel last month that North Korea "has halted its provocative behavior" by refraining from missile tests and nuclear tests for more than a year. "As well, Kim Jong Un continues to demonstrate openness to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

Despite the end to testing, Coats said, "We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its (weapons of mass destruction) capabilities, and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities."

White House correspondent Steve Herman, Seoul correspondent Bill Gallo and Ken Bredemeier contributed to this story.

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