Why Vietnam for the second Trump-Kim summit?

Communist-run but with capitalist leanings, and a friend to both the United States and North Korea, Vietnam will host the next summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jung Un from February 27-28.

Like North Korea, Vietnam was once locked in a bloody and bitter war with the US.

But unlike Pyongyang, Hanoi now counts Washington among its closest allies, emerging from the ravages of war to become one of the fastest growing economies in Asia — and one of the most diplomatically savvy.

Here are a few reasons why it was chosen to host the second Trump-Kim summit:

Does it make logistical sense?

Vietnam ticks a lot of boxes. It is a short enough flight from Pyongyang for Kim, who otherwise travels by armoured train.


It is also home to both US and North Korean embassies to help with pre-summit arrangements.

Hanoi enjoys friendly ties with both countries and is considered “neutral” territory, unlike, say, the US state of Hawaii, which was also rumoured as an option.

Security in the communist country is tight even during normal times. Authorities will carefully control media access and crowds for an event where the choreography between the leaders will be closely watched across the world.

Why is Kim on board with Vietnam?

Vietnam is one of a handful of countries with which North Korea has good relations.

Diplomatic ties between Hanoi and Pyongyang date back to 1950, and North Korea sent air force personnel to the communist North during the Vietnam War.

The last top North Korean leader to visit Vietnam was Kim Jong Un’s grandfather Kim Il Sung in 1958, though several senior officials have visited since then.

While trade has dipped in the wake of UN sanctions against Pyongyang, it reached $7-million in 2017.

Kim’s trip to Vietnam — it will be his first — could also be a chance for him to learn from Vietnam’s post-war economic transformation.

“(Kim) would be interested in seeing the Vietnam story for himself, that can be a good source of inspiration and reflection for him to think about the way he should take North Korea forward,” Le Hong Hiep, a Vietnam expert at Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, told AFP.

What about Washington?

Vietnam might also be a strategically important location for the US, which is currently locked in a trade war with China — one of North Korea’s closest allies.

Trump could use Vietnam to “signal to Beijing that North Korea is not in your hands, we have a counterbalance to Chinese influence in this area”, said Cheon Seong Whun, a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

Washington is also keen to show off Vietnam’s economic success story, touted by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a visit to the country last year.

“Your country can replicate this path. It’s yours if you’ll seize the moment,” Pompeo said in remarks aimed at Kim.

“It can be your miracle in North Korea as well.”

Why is Vietnam keen to host?

Vietnam is eager to showcase its diplomatic gravitas on a global stage, following on from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2017 and a regional World Economic Forum meeting last year.

The Trump-Kim meet could pay off in more ways than one.

Hosting the box-office summit could boost “Vietnam’s status in the international community, which helps the country attract tourism and foreign investment”, said Vu Minh Khuong, a policy analyst at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.

© Agence France-Presse

Subscribe to the M&G for R2 a month

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

And for this weekend only, you can become a subscriber by paying just R2 a month for your first three months.

Agency
External source

Related stories

Malawi elections provide a global lesson in democracy

COMMENT: Opposition candidates and party can increase their chances of success at the polls by putting aside minor differences and presenting a united front

Masterclasses in duck-and-dive

You didn’t need to be a genius or a prophet to predict that Bushiri would run or that Zuma would stall

Bye-bye, Don. But is this the end of Trumpism?

If it hadn’t been for Covid-19, Donald Trump might have won the presidential election. Almost 48% of voting Americans believe in his brand of democracy, equality and justice.

The decline and fall of the South African auditing profession

Its reputation is not being helped at all by the crisis at its independent regulatory body

Will Biden and Harris help us breathe again?

The United States’ newly elected leaders, Joe Biden and Kamala Devi Harris, must help recalibrate a global politics of hope and empathy

The Trump era is over. But the fight for democracy is just getting started

A respected and robust United States — with all of our flaws, mistakes and missteps — can be good for the defence of democracy, not least in Africa
Advertising

Subscribers only

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

Q&A Sessions: ‘I think I was born way before my...

The chief executive of the Estate Agency Affairs Board and the deputy chair of the SABC board, shares her take on retrenchments at the public broadcaster and reveals why she hates horror movies

More top stories

DRC: Tshisekedi and Kabila fall out

The country’s governing coalition is under strain, which could lead to even more acrimony ahead

Editorial: Crocodile tears from the coalface

Pumping limited resources into a project that is predominantly meant to extend dirty coal energy in South Africa is not what local communities and the climate needs.

Klipgat residents left high and dry

Flushing toilets were installed in backyards in the North West, but they can’t be used because the sewage has nowhere to go

Nehawu leaders are ‘betraying us’

The accusation by a branch of the union comes after it withdrew from a parliamentary process
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…