NK media reports on Kim's departure for Trump summit in Hanoi

Vietnamese police officers stand guard outside the North Korea-USA summit's media centre in Hanoi on Saturday
Vietnamese police officers stand guard outside the North Korea-USA summit's media centre in Hanoi on Saturday

24 February, 2019

A Chinese hotel near the border with North Korea earlier stopped receiving reservations for this weekend, in a sign that the North's leader Kim could travel to Vietnam by train for his second summit with Trump.

The leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un left Pyongyang on Saturday for Vietnam, ahead of his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Yonhap News Agency reported citing Russian media Tass.

While multiple sources reported that the North Korean leader was on board, Pyongyang did not confirm the reports, as Kim's travel schedule remains shrouded in secrecy.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Kim will pay an official goodwill visit to Vietnam "in the coming days" in response to the invitation of President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.

But little progress has been made since then and they are set to meet again in Hanoi on February 27 and 28.

Kim has previously travelled in his olive green train to Beijing and may stop in the Chinese capital, meeting President Xi Jinping as he did prior to his historic meetings with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in previous year.

In their Singapore summit, Mr. Kim Jong-un and Mr. Trump pledged to work towards peace between their countries and for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Beijing has given no details of Kim's trip through China.

Another option for Kim would be to take the train to Beijing and catch a plane to the Vietnamese capital.

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Kim's train will reportedly stop at the Vietnamese border station of Dong Dang, after which he will proceed by auto to Hanoi, with local authorities planning to close the stretch of road that he will travel on between the station and the capital.

Soldiers were deployed to Dong Dang station and along the road to the capital, according to AFP reporters at the scene.

For his rail trips, Kim travels on a heavily fortified train equipped with luxury carriages that plod along the tracks at slow speeds due to its weight and construction. His grandfather and state founder, Kim Il Sung, last visited in 1964. His late father, Kim Jong Il, travelled all the way to Moscow by train in 2001.

The North Korean leader is accompanied by his sister, Kim Yo Jong.

"But by choosing to travel by their own special train over a Chinese aircraft, Pyongyang may be signalling its willingness to be independent", Jeong said.

Vietnamese police have stepped up security around the border station.

Workers install street lights in front of the government guest house of Vietnam in Hanoi, which is expected to be the venue for the summit.

"China wants North Korea to make some steps to denuclearise as much as anyone else", Hastings said.

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