Trump and Kim will hold a joint signing ceremony at 2:05 pm Hanoi time tomorrow (that’s 2:05 am on the East Coast). The details of that ceremony are tbd, according to Trump’s schedule.

Trump tweeted moments ago that his talks with Kim had wrapped up, and that after a “very good dialogue,” they will continue on Thursday.

Observers will probably spend the intervening hours speculating about whether that “signing ceremony” will involve a ceremonial end to the Korean War.

In a choreographed ceremony that recalled their first meeting in Singapore, President Trump and Kim Jong Un met at the Metropole Hotel in Hanoi late Wednesday (local time) to start their second historic summit off with a handshake, a brief private meeting and a dinner with their aides – all of which (except for the private discussion) took place in front of thousands of reporters from around the world.

Shortly after arriving at the hotel, the two leaders shook hands standing in front of a display of American and North Korean flags.

Responding to questions from reporters, Trump said he felt the summit would be a “great success” and that he hadn’t reconsidered his stance on total denuclearization for North Korea. That was followed by the two leaders’ first “sit down” where they both answered questions from the press. Asked if the two leaders would announce an end to the 1950-1953 Korean War, an outcome that analysts have said would be one of the best-case scenarios for the summit, Trump said: “We’ll see.”

Before the meeting, Trump sent a couple of tweets mocking one of his political rivals (because you can’t visit Vietnam without taking a shot a Da Nang Dick Blumenthal) and insisting that, media spin aside, he and Kim would work toward an agreement on denuclearization.

Shortly after their handshake, and after a brief private meeting, Trump joined Kim for a quick dinner, accompanied by their top aides. As the camera shutters flickered, Trump, playing the jovial host, asked if everybody was having a nice time, and told the press that “we’re going to have a very busy day tomorrow.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney joined Trump for the dinner, while Kim was joined by lead negotiator Kim Yong Chol and foreign minister Ri Yong Ho. Kim told the press that the two exchanged “very interesting dialogue” during their brief one-on-one meeting.

Trump quickly added: “Boy if you could have heard that dialogue, what you would pay for that dialogue,” Trump said.

Looking back on the day, Bloomberg offered a rundown of the key takeaways from Trump’s first day in Hanoi:

  • Trump spent his first full day of his visit to Vietnam out and about, meeting with Vietnam’s prime minister and president and taking part in a signing ceremony for commercial deals; Kim, meanwhile, remained largely out of sight during much of the day ahead of the evening one-on-one meeting with the U.S. president
  • Vietnam was very much in focus today; Trump expressed admiration for its economy and said North Korea could similarly thrive if Kim agrees to give up nuclear weapons
  • Trump at the signing ceremony looked on as Boeing and VietJet signed a deal valued at around $12.7 billion and Bamboo Airways signed one worth about $3 billion; GE also signed an agreement with VietJet
  • Trump’s one-on-one with Kim very quickly raised the thorny issue of “denuclearization” – the U.S. president said he’s not walking back his insistence on complete and verifiable denuclearization by North Korea as a condition to lift sanctions; but there have been signs in recent days the U.S. is tempering expectations, at least for the meetings this week in Hanoi
  • Trump again said he sees his relationship with Kim as a “very good one” – with initial interaction with Kim that felt quite reminiscent of the Singapore summit.

The real work will begin on Thursday, when negotiations between the two sides begin in earnest. According to the FT, Steve Biegun, the main US negotiator in the talks, said recently that Kim had indicated that he would be willing to destroy the plutonium and uranium-enrichment plants housed at Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for “corresponding measures” from the US, though he didn’t say what those measures would be. The US, meanwhile, has continued to insist that no sanctions relief will be offered until full denuclearization has been accomplished.

The North Korean government has criticized the Democrats for “chilling the atmosphere” with their negative comments on the current peace talks between the U.S. and North Korea.

Related Articles