U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would hold his second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27-28, while giving himself credit for averting a major war on the Korean peninsula.
Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress much work remained to be done in the push for peace with North Korea, but cited the halt in its nuclear testing and no new missile launches in 15 months as proof of progress.
“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said.
Trump had raised fears of war in 2017 when he threatened to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea because of the threat its nuclear weapons and missiles posed to the United States.
Trump met Kim in Singapore on June 12 in the first summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Trump has been eager to hold a second summit in spite of a lack of concrete progress in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.
He said his relationship with Kim “is a good one.”
The presidential Blue House of South Korea, which plays a facilitating role between the United States and North Korea, welcomed Trump’s announcement and expressed hope for progress on improving relations.
“The two leaders already took their first step in Singapore toward shaking off their 70-year history of hostilities. Now we hope that they will take a step forward for concrete, substantive progress,” Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing in Seoul.
Vietnam would be the best host of the event, Kim Eui-kyeom said, citing its checkered history with the United States in which they used to “point a gun and knife at each other.”
Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, had been widely touted as the most likely venue for the meeting.
It has also been used as a model of economic and political reform for impoverished and isolated North Korea to follow. That would require major changes to the North’s personality cult and “juche” ideology of self-sufficiency.
Trump did not say which Vietnamese city would host the two leaders but both the capital, Hanoi, and Danang have been considered as possibilities.
A source at Danang airport said four U.S. military V-22 “Osprey” aircraft flew from Japan’s Okinawa Island and landed in the coastal city on Tuesday evening. They left after a few hours, the source said.
U.S. logistics officials visited the city last week, a major base for U.S. and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The U.S. Embassy in Vietnam said it did not have anything to announce regarding the summit.