Kim Jong-un arrives by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China. Picture: Getty Images
Kim Jong-un arrives by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China. Picture: Getty Images

Kim’s aide makes hilarious mad dash

KIM Jong-un's arrival into Vietnam for a second summit with Donald Trump took a bizarre turn when an aide appeared to flub the North Korean leader's big entrance.

Video footage of Kim's arrival (via his personal bulletproof train) shows the leader, who's usually heavily guarded, walking down a red carpet ramp alone.

A terrified aide then seems to realise his error and sprints down the ramp to accompany his boss running at a speed that suggested his life may depend on it.

Kim Jong-un walks alone from his personal train ahead of a second summit with Donald Trump. Picture: YouTube
Kim Jong-un walks alone from his personal train ahead of a second summit with Donald Trump. Picture: YouTube

It comes as US President Donald Trump touched down in Hanoi for the summit, which begins with a dinner on Wednesday night. Yonahp reported that the summit will be held at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hotel in Hanoi.

Mr Trump will meet with the Vietnamese Prime Minister and President tomorrow ahead of the bilateral with Kim.

The pair last met at their historic Singapore Summit in June, where with much fanfare they signed a commitment towards the complete and verifiable denuclearisation of North Korea.

But since, Mr Trump declared: "There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea," both countries have been walking an at-times tricky path towards what that looks like.

 

The hapless aide sprints after his boss. Picture: YouTube
The hapless aide sprints after his boss. Picture: YouTube

 

 

Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One for a trip to Vietnam to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Picture: AAP
Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One for a trip to Vietnam to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Picture: AAP

Critics say Kim's actions so far have been mere nods to denuking that could be reversed "at any minute" and that a stonewalling North Korea has failed to hand over any verifiable details of its weapons and capabilities.

Mr Trump himself has in recent days sought to downplay expectations of what this week will achieve, moving from his hard line stance of complete capitulation from Pyongyang in return for the lifting of sanctions to a position that would characterise smaller concessions as success.

Nonetheless, the fact Pyongyang hasn't fired a missile in more than a year, that relations between North and South Korea are at their best in decades and that the Trump-Kim dialogue is even happening are cause for hope.

But with the biggest variable for this week's summit the two mercurial leaders, many are concerned at what they might agree to when Mr Trump and Kim sit down alone.

"There is a lot of concern about there being too much on the table," says Korea expert David Kim from the nonpartisan Simpson Centre's Non Proliferation and Security program.

Following the first steps taken in Singapore, analysts say America's aim is divided into four pillars, denuclearisation, peace on the Korean Peninsula, improving diplomatic and economic relations between Washington and Pyongyang and returning to the US the remains of up to 7500 soldiers who died in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim Jong-un waves from his car after arriving by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China in Lang Son, Vietnam. Picture: Getty
Kim Jong-un waves from his car after arriving by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China in Lang Son, Vietnam. Picture: Getty

The first, most pressing concern is of course denuclearision, but the dismantling of Kim's facilities and capabilities is the outcome that will take longest to achieve.

"It's at least a 10-year marker, meaning it's going to survive past Trump, whatever Trump's political ambitions are," David Kim says.

"But in the short term, we need to see a dismantlement of facilities, a freeze on nuclear testing and missile testing. And thirdly, a cap on weapons grade fissile material production."

The most likely announcement this week will be declaration of peace, a largely symbolic gesture that would benefit both sides - with the important caveat that it needs to done correctly. There is some concern this would open the door to Mr Trump pulling US troops out of South Korea, a stated aim for the isolationist leader, but the White House denied this was in up for discussion tomorrow.

For Kim, a declaration would be another step to normalising the rogue regime's international relationships and could further open it up to the economic opportunity current strict sanctions are denying it.

"At least if you get a peace declaration, that's symbolic, you can't reverse that, but it is a major concern, and we have to put that in writing that there is no change to alliance equities, no change of force posture and no change the UN command. That has to be explicit," says Kim.

Victor Cha from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies warned North Korea had previously dangled the option of a formal end to the Korean War in order to have sanctions lifted.

"One of their classic negotiation loops is this end-of-war declaration," Mr Cha said last week.

"(But) the sanctions are on them for proliferation behaviour and human rights abuses. They improve those things, then you lift some comparable sanctions."

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un during last year’s meeting on  Sentosa Island in Singapore. Picture: AP
Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un during last year’s meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore. Picture: AP

For Mr Trump, fighting several battles at home, the public relations victory a headline declaration would bring is valuable. The president is beleaguered by ongoing fighting over funding for his border wall, and just hours before he meets Kim, his former fixer, Michael Cohen, is set to give public testimony about Mr Trump's personal affairs on his way to prison for a three-year sentence for campaign funding violations.

Even his critics give Mr Trump some credit for the progress so far, although many also chafe at his repeated claims that he is the first president to hold meaningful negotiations with the Kim dynasty.

Vietnamese security stand guard near Dong Dang train station. Picture: AP
Vietnamese security stand guard near Dong Dang train station. Picture: AP

"I'm not a Trump supporter, but I support that we have reduced tensions. It's been over 400 days now since they've tested a nuclear weapon or a missile," said David Kim.

"So in terms of a détente, Trump has made meaningful progress, but there has been no irreversible steps towards denuclearisation."

Just how important the dialogue and personal connection between Mr Trump and Kim may be in reaching a concrete outcome was laid out in a recent speech by Stephen Biegun, Washington's lead negotiator in North Korea.

"I am not kidding when I say it is difficult for us to communicate with each other," Mr Biegun said of hiccups in talks between envoys.

"We are located in very different parts of the world with very different histories. We have dramatically different views on individual rights and on human rights.

"We also have no trade of any sort, no diplomatic relations and virtually no ability to communicate directly with one another."

 

 

Kim Jong-un arrives by train in Lang Son, Vietnam. Picture: Getty
Kim Jong-un arrives by train in Lang Son, Vietnam. Picture: Getty


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