HANOI – All eyes are now on the Melia Hotel in Hanoi, as the venue for the historic meeting between the President of the United States, and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has finally been announced.
Exactly what’s at stake at this meeting is difficult to define, however. The denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is ostensibly the ultimate goal, although President Trump has already said that there is ‘no nuclear threat’ from North Korea, while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that “the risk of nuclear conflict had only been ‘substantially taken down,’” according to the news network’s international correspondent, Will Ripley.
So far North Korea has done nothing to downsize its arsenal of nuclear weapons, and may have possibly even grown its supply.
As Mr Ripley writes, “Kim is making his way to Hanoi while basking in all the legitimacy this second summit provides, without having had to make a single meaningful concession.”
CNN’s Mr Ripley explains that for the United States, a win would amount to a firm pledge from Pyongyang to act on decreasing North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.
Second to this is a justification for President Trump’s attitude toward North Korea, which has been widely questioned by many.
Kim Jong Un’s goals, on the other hand, would be to obtain relief from severe sanctions that have been imposed on North Korea, as well as a functioning relationship with the United States, the number one military and economic powerhouse around the globe.
The summit’s historical setting, Hanoi, can serve as an inspiration for success.
Less than fifty years ago, Hanoi was the target of what one US Air Force officer called “the largest operation in the history of air power.”
In what was known as the Christmas bombing, the most heavily fortified city around the world in 1972 endured 12 days of blows during Operation Linebacker II, as the administration of US President Richard Nixon believed they could shock and awe the North Vietnamese into returning to negotiations.
More than 700 B-52 bombers flew over Hanoi in the Christmas bombing, devastating the city.
But a series of economic reforms after 1986 has transformed the city, and indeed, all of Vietnam, which is now an emerging force in the region. It showed a seven percent growth in 2018, and investors from around the globe.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc is pulling out all the stops for Trump-Kim Summit 2.0, telling CNN “For the peace of the world, for a connected and developed world, let’s shake hands. We shall develop together and contribute to global stability.”
The Prime Minister has said that he takes the responsibility of holding the summit very seriously indeed.
“Vietnam is doing her best to successfully organize the second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi. It’s a historic moment in the path toward reconciliation and peace-making on the Korean peninsula. That is a very important commitment and responsibility for us.
“We deeply appreciate the meaning of peace and reconciliation. Contributing towards peace is a responsibility of each nation in this day and age.”
There seem to be not just practical but also symbolic reasons for holding the summit in Hanoi, given Vietnam’s recent history with the United States. And while the Prime Minister had loved ones who died in the conflict with the US, he chooses not to remain stuck in his country’s past.
“We don’t forget our past, our history, but we need (closure) in order to look to the future. We need such mutual understanding to build our nations in peace, to better solve the problems in the lives of our citizens.
“Millions of Vietnamese died throughout years of resistance wars to protect the country, our independence, and freedom. More than ever, we value peace, based on mutual respect for each others’ independence and sovereignty.”
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