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Vietnam prepares to host second Trump-Kim summit but expectations remain low


Vietnam prepares to host second Trump-Kim summit but expectations remain low

trump kim vietnam summit
trump kim vietnam summit
Photo: Linh Pham/Getty

President Trump will travel to Hanoi today for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two leaders met in Singapore for the first time in June of 2018. The conference, which represented the first significant thaw in relations between Washington and Pyongyang in years, produced a vague commitment to denuclearisation.

Regardless, neither side has been able to pin down exactly what denuclearisation means. For Washington, the term refers to the North’s dismantlement of its nuclear capabilities. Contrastingly, Pyongyang views denuclearisation as the removal of nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula, a definition that extends to the US’ nuclear umbrella covering South Korea.

This misunderstanding is unlikely to be resolved during the meetings over the next few days and will continue to inhibit any major progress on denuclearisation talks for the foreseeable future. At this summit, expect mainly diplomatic agreements, possibly a declaration to formally end the Korean War. Though the president himself is a loose cannon, many security officials in the Trump administration will question the authenticity of Kim’s pledges and be wary of substantially easing sanctions, Washington’s main bargaining chip, for largely symbolic overtures.

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