North Korea leader Kim Jong-un yesterday boarded a train to Vietnam for his second summit with US President Donald Trump, state media reported.
Kim was accompanied by Kim Yong-chol, who has been a key negotiator in talks with the US, and Kim Yo-jong, the leader’s sister, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.
TV footage and photographs distributed by the news agency showed Kim Jong-un inspecting a guard of honor at the Pyongyang station before waving from the train.
Photo: EPA-EFE / KCNA
Late on Saturday, a reporter saw a green-and-yellow train similar to one used in the past by the leader cross into the Chinese border city of Dandong via a bridge.
The meeting with Trump is slated for Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi.
Kim’s overseas travel plans are routinely kept secret. It could take more than two days for the train to travel thousands of kilometers through China to Vietnam.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday said that Kim would pay an official goodwill visit to the country “in the coming days” in response to an invitation by Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also the general-secretary of the Vietnamese Communist Party.
In his upcoming meeting with Trump, experts say Kim Jong-un is to seek a US commitment for improved bilateral relations and partial sanctions relief while trying to minimize any concessions on his nuclear facilities and weapons.
Hanoi has been gearing up for the summit with bolstered security.
Officials say the colonial-era Government Guest House in central Hanoi is expected to be the venue for the meeting, with the nearby Metropole Hotel as a backup. Streets around the two locations have been beautified with flowers and the flags of North Korea, the US and Vietnam.
Workers were also putting final touches on the International Media Center.
The ministry said that about 2,600 members of the foreign press had registered for the event.
Also expected to land in Vietnam yesterday was Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov.
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Lavrov would pay an official visit ahead of a Russia-India-China ministerial conference in China, according to Interfax news agency.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has announced a traffic ban along Kim Jong-un’s possible arrival route.
The Nhan Dan newspaper quoted the Vietnamese Department of Roads as saying the ban would first apply to larger trucks and vehicles with nine seats or more on the 170km stretch of Highway 1 from Dong Dang, a border town with China, to Hanoi from 7pm today to 2pm tomorrow, followed by a complete ban tomorrow on all vehicles from 6am to 2pm.
The People’s Committee in Lang Son Province, where the Dong Dang railway station is, issued a statement on Friday instructing the road operator to clean the highway stretch and suspend road works, among other things, on Feb. 24 to 28 as “a political task.”
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