U.S. President Donald Trump is meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart hours before he is set to sit down with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Trump is greeting Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, whose country is hosting the second summit between the leaders of the two technically-warring nations.
The two leaders presided over a signing ceremony of several commercial trade deals between their two airline industries.
Trump’s courtesy call to the host nation’s leadership is meant to provide Kim with a visualization of a potential future should he give up his country’s nuclear weapons in a deal with the U.S.
After a decade of bloody conflict that ended more than four decades ago, the U.S. and Vietnam are now economic and strategic partners.
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Trump said Vietnam is thriving economically and that North Korea could, too, if it would give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Before sitting down with Kim later Wednesday in Hanoi, Trump tweeted that “North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize. The potential is AWESOME, a great opportunity, like almost none other in history, for my friend Kim Jong Un.”
In a second tweet, Trump took a shot at Democrats in Washington, saying they should stop telling him what to do with North Korea and “ask themselves instead why they didn’t do ‘it’ during eight years of the Obama Administration?”
Trump faults previous administrations for inaction on North Korea.
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Official greetings between Trump and the normally reclusive Kim will give way to a short one-on-one discussion before what’s being described as a social dinner with an exclusive guest list.
The White House said Trump will be joined at the dinner by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Kim, too, will have two aides with him, and there will be translators for each side.
Trump and Kim will have a series of additional official meetings Thursday.
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Kim, who arrived in Hanoi first, spent Tuesday travelling around the Vietnamese capital in his limousine. With a squad of bodyguards in tow, he visited sections of Hanoi, including his nation’s embassy where a loud cheer went up as he entered the compound.
As host, Vietnam is eager to show off its huge economic and development improvements since the destruction of the Vietnam War. But the country also tolerates no dissent and is able to provide the kind of firm hand not allowed by more democratic potential hosts.